"Although we never set out to own a mine in Nigeria, the opportunities that were immediately visible compelled us to alter our view and become strongly involved in all aspects of gold development in Nigeria. We now offer a full Turnkey contract for potential investors and have demonstrated our ability to de-risk a project."
Could you please give us a background into PWN’s history in Nigeria?
PW Nigeria Limited ( PWN) was originally operated out of the UK and Ireland, but in 1974, the then-owner saw an opportunity to move over to Nigeria. Between 1974 and 2014, the company was focused on civil engineering projects; in 45 years of activity, we have been responsible for over 5,000 km of road networks, building more than 200 bridges and moving out 65 million m3 of earth.
PWN was originally part pf the PW Group until March this year, when it was acquired by the BUA Group, the second largest company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The company still maintains a close relationship with its former sister companies but is now concentrated on a wide portfolio of new mining projects and Federal infrastructure projects.
How has the business evolved towards mining and what is its focus today?
In 2015, we realized there was a need to diversify due to the slowdown of the economy and the ever-tightening infrastructure investment from the Federal and State levels. This led us to the mining industry, an area where we could apply our long-established earthmoving capability and experience from being part of the larger PW Group. At this point, we carried out a “gap” analysis to understand what was missing in the Nigerian mining industry and we found that there was no substantive player on the market who could specialize in formal exploration and industrial contract mining. As part of this diversification PWN partnered with Meridian Drilling to offer the Nigerian market a complete and professional drilling provider. We also assisted in bringing in a Canadian based laboratory, MS Analytical, with experience in West Africa and abroad; this prep lab helps Nigeria cut the fees of sending samples out to Ghana, Canada or Australia for analysis. In this way, we were able to start a strong mining division and last year, we incorporated PW Nigeria Mining Limited after securing important bulk mining projects with Symbol Mining and Lafarge Africa. In 2019, we saw a significant growth of our Mining portfolio and this growth is still advancing in 2020, despite a challenging year.
PWN also acquired gold exploration leases and currently holds four targets. This has led to a JV agreement with Moydow Resources, who are very active in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali. The results from the drilling to date have been very good. Although we never set out to own a mine in Nigeria, the opportunities that were immediately visible compelled us to alter our view and become strongly involved in all aspects of gold development in Nigeria. We now offer a full Turnkey contract for potential investors and have demonstrated our ability to de-risk a project.
How do you see the future of the mining industry in Nigeria?
We have seen many investors moving in and out of Nigeria showing initial interest but usually either the timing is not right, or the projects are not advanced enough. However, as we now offer a strong and solid mining division, we are starting to see more momentum thanks to companies who are successfully developing their mines, such as the Segiola project of Thor Exploration. Larger players in the sector are starting to listen when it comes to Nigeria, but we have more work to do to entice them.
As part of our development into the mining sector we also spent some time at the British Geological Survey in Nottingham going through the historical data on gold occurrences in the Nigerian schist belts dating back as far as the 1900s. There was quite a lot of excitement during these times in the metal and jewel potential for Nigeria, but unfortunately it coincided with the discovery of oil which brought its own financial backing into a huge and easily accessed market. From our perspective, the mining industry remains largely untapped across a wide range of minerals. PWN Mining want to reignite the enthusiasm that existed between 1900 and 1960.
What differentiates PWN in the market and what will be the main growth pillars moving ahead?
PWN offers a turnkey approach to mining projects, helping clients from early exploration stages right through to operating the mine. We also have a fantastic logistics network, including excellent relations with many of the governmental and non-governmental sides of the business. With 45 years of experience in the country, PWN is the contractor of choice in these uncertain and volatile times.