First Bank of Nigeria, has expresed confidence in the mining sector as a viable tool to drive the growth of Nigeria’s economy, while unlocking untapped economic opportunities.
Temitayo Osundosumu, the group head, Corporate Banking, Energy (Upstream and midstream), First Bank stated this at the sidelines of 2023 Nigeria mining week.
He said, “we believe this industry can unlock a lot of opportunities for the country. Many years back, this industry used to contribute up to four to five per cent of GDP, but now the industry is barely contributing up to 0.3 to 0.4 per cent.
“Over the years we have supported this industry and we have been a part of this conference for seven years consecutively. What we plan to do is work with the various stakeholders, the government, other financiers, development organizations, to see what financing needs we can give to the sector to unlock the opportunity.”
Osundosumu noted that the world is moving into a cleaner energy era and that means some of these minerals will be the focal point in view all over the world.
“For example, lithium, everybody’s speaking about it all over the world, they are looking for it, and there is a vast resource of lithium in Nigeria. We will work with all the players and we will ensure we can tap into this vast resource for the development of the country.”
He also noted that the Minister has come up with a seven-point agenda, as well as putting the artisans and small-scale miners together in a well-organized manner, saying “I think artisanal miners, some are licensed, some are not. Overall, the risk is high, so if they come together as a cooperative, it will help the industry.”
On how to structure the industry, he explained that the “Bank works with various agencies, Ministry, Solid Minerals Development Fund, to see what sort of financing we can offer them at the back of all they are doing to do the exploration work in the field, where we come in at the close to development production stage for the industry.
“The other thing we also want to look at, the end-to-ends; from the mining to the markets; the production to the evacuation; also, we look into the fact that this is something that will benefit the country. So, in terms of taking the course of environmental correctness, not employing too much child labor, these are the things we look for as a finance institution.”
Osundosumu further said “like in other years, this year’s mining conference has been very exciting. A new government is in place, so they have come and articulated their agenda and this shows the renewed focus on this sector.
“So far, we have also seen a lot of foreign participation who believe in this sector are coming in. We will continue to support this sector, as we have done in the past seven years, we believe that this is the next step for this country.”