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All the lat­est sto­ries from across Africa

Canada-listed ju­nior miner, Thor Ex­plo­rations aims to bring Nige­ria’s first large-scale gold mine on­line in early 2020, its CEO said, as the West African coun­try seeks to di­ver­sify its econ­omy away from oil & gas.

Fol­low­ing the com­mod­ity price crash of 2015-16, the World Bank in April, 2017 said it was pro­vid­ing funds to help the Nige­rian Govern­ment de­velop its ne­glected min­ing sec­tor.

Pro­jects un­der­way in­clude Thor Ex­plo­rations’ Segilola Gold Project, lo­cated in Osun State, which CEO, Se­gun Law­son says aims to pro­duce gold in the first quar­ter of 2020 and has prob­a­ble gold re­serves of around 500,000 ounces.

“Thor is cur­rently de­vel­op­ing the coun­try’s most ad­vanced gold mine,” Law­son said re­cently. He says he has a min­ing and ex­plo­ration li­cence and is con­sid­er­ing his op­tions for rais­ing $72 mil­lion to get the mine into pro­duc­tion.

Law­son bought the Segilola project in 2016 for $3.1 mil­lion in cash plus $6 mil­lion in Thor shares.

He prom­ises rapid pay­back on the in­vest­ment once pro­duc­tion starts and Thor Ex­plo­rations’ stock has climbed 50 per­cent this year while gold prices have only risen around one per­cent.

The World Bank has pro­vided around $150 mil­lion to the Nige­rian Govern­ment to kick­start non-oil sec­tors af­ter the econ­omy was hit by a fall in oil prices, which are now re­cov­er­ing.

The Bank’s fund­ing is meant to help the Govern­ment for­malise the ar­ti­sanal min­ing sec­tor, im­prove en­vi­ron­men­tal prac­tices and sup­port in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments for larger scale mines.

Min­ing pro­vides only around

0.5 per­cent of GDP, ac­cord­ing to World Bank fig­ures, as the sec­tor has strug­gled to at­tract for­eign in­vest­ment and to meet do­mes­tic needs, forc­ing costly im­ports.

The oil sec­tor ac­counts for an es­ti­mated 8.7 per­cent of GDP and is crit­i­cal for for­eign ex­change and fiscal rev­enue.

The World Bank has said that gold “of­fers good prospects” although many min­ers say other met­als, such as iron ore, are more use­ful.

Martin Wood, CEO of Aus­tralian­listed Kogi Iron, would not put a date on when the Com­pany could be­gin pro­duc­tion in Nige­ria, but said it was look­ing for in­vestors to pro­vide around $350 mil­lion.

The Com­pany plans to build a steel plant us­ing lo­cal iron ore and coal.

While a project in land­locked

Kogi state, is not well-po­si­tioned to ex­port, it has the in­fra­struc­ture to sell do­mes­ti­cally and could en­vis­age 100 per­cent profit mar­gins, while re­duc­ing Nige­ria’s im­port de­pen­dency, Wood said.

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