…Govt to sign exploration deal with Australian firm
30 August 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – A private mining syndicate has made a potentially “world class and highly unusual” Nickel discovery in Nigeria, The Australian, an Australian national newspaper is reporting.
The private mining syndicate is reportedly headed by Hugh Morgan, a mining industry veteran.
“The discovery is unusual because the nickel is found in small balls up to 3mm in diameter of a high purity in shallow soils in what could be the surface expression of a much bigger hard-rock nickel field,” the newspaper said.
“The nickel balls, rumoured to grade better than 90 per cent nickel and thought to be a world first given their widespread distribution, offer the potential for early cashflow from a simple and low-cost screening operation to fund a full assessment of the find that has exploration circles buzzing.”
Details of the discovery, called Titan, are sketchy, according to the newspaper, but it was rumoured to be close to Dangoma, a small farming town which is located in the North-West state of Kaduna about 160km northeast of the Nigerian capital of Abuja.
When asked to comment last week, Mr Morgan reportedly said it was for the Nigerian government to make an announcement.
Nickel is primarily sold for first use as refined metal. About 65 percent of it consumed in the West is used to produce stainless steel.
The world’s largest producers of Nickel include The Philippines, Indonesia, Russia, Canada, and Australia, according to the US Geological Survey.
Nickel is no stranger to the mining bulwark and former Reserve Bank board member. Between 1990 and 2003 he was chief executive of Western Mining Corporation (taken over by BHP Billiton in 2005) when it was Australia’s biggest nickel producer.
Nigeria’s Minister for Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, is listed to speak at the three-day Africa Down Under mining conference at Perth’s Pan Pacific Hotel next month, with past conferences drawing bumper crowds.
Dr. Fayemi is to speak first on Wednesday September 7, and Mr Morgan will follow along with consulting geologist Louisa Lawrance. Mr Morgan is listed as speaking as a director of the private company Comet Minerals.
Fayemi is one of 13 African mines ministers to attend this year’s Africa Down Under, reflecting the importance African nations place on attracting Australian mining expertise and funding for mining.
Nigeria itself has a stated ambition to grow its mining sector as an offset to its dependence on the oil industry, which has been ravaged by the slump in prices.
The minister’s Chief Press Secretary, Olayinka Oyebode, said he had no details of the discovery, but confirmed his principal is scheduled to be in Australia next week.
“I know there is a mining conference coming up in Australia where the Minister is supposed to make a presentation,” Mr. Oyebode stated.
“But I don’t have an advance knowledge of what he’s going to talk about but, generally speaking, he’s going to market Nigeria.”
Mr. Oyebode asked this newspaper to give him till Monday evening for Mr. Fayemi’s reaction on the nickel discovery in Kaduna.
But an official of the ministry, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said Mr. Fayemi’s delegation would most likely sign an exploration deal with the Australian syndicate at the conference.
In August, Mr. Fayemi told Bloomberg that one of the Nigeria government’s priorities is to meet its annual steel demand of 6.8 metric tons, from a current output of less than 2.5 metric tons, produced mainly from scrap iron.
“In two to five years, we want to have started production of iron ore, lead, zinc, bitumen, nickel, coal and gold at a serious scale,” Mr. Fayemi had said.