AFC and Nigeria SMDF Partner to De-risk Mining Sector

Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), the continent’s leading infrastructure provider and the Solid Minerals Development Fund of Nigeria (SMDF), a Nigerian mining-focused development fund, last week on the sidelines of Nigerian Mining Week in Abuja, announced a transformative partnership aimed at derisking Nigeria’s mining sector and scaling up artisanal miners in the country to an industrial level of operation.

This strategic collaboration, which follows a cooperation agreement signed by AFC and SMDF earlier in the year, is set to address the dearth of expertise and funding for early-stage mining projects, paving the way for these projects to reach financial close and full-scale operations.

Nigeria is rich in mineral resources and has immense potential for mining development. However, the lack of available expertise and funding has posed challenges in advancing mining projects. Through this partnership, AFC and SMDF aim to bridge this gap to unlock the immense potential of Nigeria’s mineral resources. By pooling their resources and expertise, these two leading institutions will not only provide investment opportunities but a joint project development facility that includes technical support, ensuring that promising mining projects receive the guidance and funding they need to thrive.

One of the key deliverables of this collaboration is the AFC-SMDF Investment Manual. This comprehensive document will offer project sponsors a clear understanding of how the joint project development facility operates, its objectives, and the specific requirements for project consideration. The manual will also feature an appraisal checklist outlining the criteria that both institutions require for project evaluation.

To streamline the project submission process, AFC and SMDF have created a dedicated portal for project sponsors. This portal will be managed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), a renowned global professional services firm, working with renowned Nigerian consulting firms, to screen and conduct initial evaluations. Subsequently, projects will be submitted to AFC and SMDF for further assessment.

To further improve the mining sector in Nigeria, AFC and SMDF have also engaged Wood Mackenzie, a leading global research and consulting firm, to undertake a comprehensive study assessing the feasibility of establishing a midstream processing plant in Nigeria. This study will focus on critical minerals such as Lithium, Nickel, and other energy transition metals abundant in the country. By evaluating the profitability and return potential of midstream and downstream mineral processing projects, the study will create a robust foundation for AFC and SMDF to deploy their balance sheets in order to further de-risk the investment landscape for potential investors.

Commenting on this groundbreaking partnership, Samaila Zubairu, President & CEO of AFC, stated, “The world needs African resources to fully transition to clean-energy in the long term, and more investment is required to sustainably mine and develop in-continent processing capacity for commodities that are critical to the energy transition. In this regard, we are excited to partner with the Solid Minerals Development Fund of Nigeria to derisk the country’s mining sector. This collaboration signifies our commitment to unlock the vast potential of Nigeria’s mineral resources by leveraging the wealth of our renewable energy sources for local processing, thus fostering sustainable development and economic properity in Nigeria and Africa.”

Fatima Umaru Shinkafi, Executive Secretary and CEO of Solid Minerals Development Fund, said: “We are pleased to deepen our cooperation with the AFC through collaborating on these strategic initiatives to support the Nigerian mining industry. I am incredibly grateful for the Honourable Minister’s support, which has been critical to developing these initiatives. These initiatives align with the Renewed Hope Agenda and the Ministry’s Transformation Agenda of leveraging the mining sector to catalyze economic growth, competitiveness, and job creation.”

This partnership between AFC and SMDF is a pivotal step toward harnessing Nigeria’s mineral wealth and positioning the nation as a key player in the global mining industry. Since 2014, the Corporation has invested more than $900 million in mining projects across Africa including the Segilola Gold Mine in Osun, Nigeria, the Karowe Diamond mine in Botswana and the Bon Ami bauxite project in north-western Guineas.

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