Further to the second item above, there are going to be a lot of eyes around the mining world looking at Nigeria during the coming months.

The nation has announced some of the most attractive financial terms globally for developing new mines. With the government further indicating that it will take concrete action to support the widespread development of the minerals sector.

In many ways this is a “back to the future” situation for Nigeria. As the chart below shows, during the 1960s and 1970s, the solid minerals sector contributed as much as 20% of the country’s GDP — before the focus shifted firmly to oil, and the mining sector was left to languish.

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Percentage of Nigeria’s GDP contributed by solid minerals sector over the last 60 years

That suggests there is significant minerals potential in the country. An observation further supported by Nigeria’s geographic position — immediately east of the prolific gold fields of Ghana and Burkina Faso, and south of the producing uranium deposits of Niger.

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Nigeria is located very close to big gold deposits in Ghana and Burkina Faso

Indeed, a survey of known mineral occurrences shows that Nigeria has a lot of intriguing possibilities. The map below is from a recent strategy document put together by the government for minerals development — and shows how the country has abundant showings for gold (yellow cubes), nickel (red hexagons), and lead/zinc (grey diamonds).

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Map of Nigeria mineral occurrences, from the country’s “Economic Transformation Blueprint

Of all of these possibilities, gold appears to be the most intriguing. With the deposits in nearby Ghana, Burkina Faso and Cote D’Ivoire representing some of the largest in Africa — and indeed, around the world.

And there’s reason to believe that potential could extend into Nigeria. Geologically, there isn’t nearly as much work done in Nigeria as those other gold nations — but as the map below shows, the Archean-aged rocks that host big gold deposits elsewhere in West Africa do extend eastward into Nigeria (shown at the far right, just east of Benin).

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Similar-aged rocks to those hosting big gold deposits in West Africa appear to extend into Nigeria (far right)

So where do we stand in terms of starting up gold exploration here? In fact, there are already some good indications on places to look first.

As the mineral occurrences map above shows, most of Nigeria’s gold showings are in the west of the country. Where a 2009 survey by the government noted at least 13 localities where gold had been discovered. Including one location where a “reserve” of 350,000 ounces had been delineated.

Importantly, the majority of these showings feature gold within quartz veins hosted by Precambrian-aged meta-sediments. Generally the same lithologies we see in bigger gold deposits elsewhere in West Africa.

Beyond that general geology, we really don’t know a lot about Nigeria’s gold deposits. When I punch in “Nigeria” and “gold” into my literature database, I get just 97 hits (many of which are about contamination related to local mining). By contrast, a search for “Ghana” and “gold” yields a full 539 research papers written.

All of which suggests we have a lot to learn about Nigeria’s gold potential. Especially given that the few recent studies conducted here have returned some intriguing leads — including a 2010 identification of possible iron-oxide-copper-gold (IOCG) mineralization near Laka in northwest Nigeria.

In short, it looks like we have the right rocks — in a place where the government is making the right fiscal moves. Keep an eye on this part of the world. If things keep shaping up positively, it could be a spot for a big gold discovery or few.