Nigeria-born mining entrepreneur JOSEPHINE EMOTON ABURIME-SHINE wants a catalyst that sparks economic growth in the country – particularly from the mining sector.
With passion and commitment as the core drivers that motivate her, and a mining business that holds great prospect, she represents the future of what a thriving Nigerian mining sector could look like, writes LAURA CORNISH.
Emotan was not looking to become a mining entrepreneur, but her love for precious stones aligns with Nigeria’s lucrative gems potential and about five years ago this transpired into a number of business opportunities.
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Although born in Nigeria, Emotan grew up in the UK, but returned to Nigeria in her capacity as a gemstone collector, knowing that the country has a lot to offer in the field.
Proposals to acquire mine sites quickly followed and so Emotan Global Ventures (EGV) – the first of two companies was established.
Today EGV owns various metals deposits, including gold, zinc and copper – producing small amounts of ore at present.
In her capacity as CEO and chairperson of the company, Emotan also has plans to establish an official buying centre as part of the EGV business – which will facilitate open opportunities for Nigerian traders, in addition to cut and polished stones sourced from her own companies.
Subsequent to the development of EGV, Emotan saw the need to register a second business in Nigeria – one that today focuses predominantly on buying new mining licences in the country.
“Under this business – Piramen Ventures – Emotan owns 10 gemstone licences – comprising resources containing rubies, sapphires, topaz, fluorite, zircon, etc. The country is undeniably home to a viable precious stones mining business, and I hope to showcase this through my business,” she says.
Like EGV, Piramen Ventures is also producing small quantities of gems, including sapphires and fluorite at present.
With a full-scale lapidary in her company armour, Emotan’s business has the capability and capacity to produce cut and polished stones, which she is hoping will open the financial doors to adding a jewellery production centre as well.
Naturally, as a Nigerian citizen, Emotan believes in the value of downstream opportunities to further enhance and build on the country’s mining potential – and she is equally and undeniably determined to help drive this market sector.
Growing the mining portfolio
Prior to lockdown regulations implemented in Nigeria, Emotan had about 50 permanent employees on her payroll, over and above additional temporary workers on site.
“COVID-19 and social distancing required us to review this,” and as such the CEO has reduced her head count to about 30 at present.
Nonetheless, Emotan has a great vision for both EGV and Piramen – one that will see the mines open up on a larger, even industrial scale.
“This requires input from experienced miners and I am looking to engage with the industry to find and secure suitable partners to help grow this arm of the business,” she highlights. This should fast track the development of the mining sector – particularly for precious stones.
EGV has also more recently invested in the purchase of some new equipment which will enable the gold and copper being mines to be processed as well.
As a general statement, Emotan feels that Africa does not realise enough benefits from its mining sector.
“As a local mining entity, I am happy to work hard but I want this to be for the benefit of the country – and this means investing in the downstream sector and not selling materials in their raw form to foreign investors.”
“I believe that Nigeria can be a global gemstone beneficiation centre that is recognised internationally and in so doing receives the monetary credit it deserves,” Emotan highlights.
And while she acknowledges that Nigeria still struggles with a negative investor perception – she also points out that most countries have difficulties – an informed decision considering Emotan is well-travelled.
“It is in fact easier to do business in Nigeria than many other places I’ve been to. The country should not be tainted negatively by a few bad examples,” she emphasises.
Fortunately, the Nigerian Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, is making good progress on improving the mining sector’s investment attractiveness rating.
“We still have a long journey ahead of us, but we are on our way.”
Emotan is however looking to government to review their policies as part of this process – particularly with regard to managing illegal miners, mine security and much needed infrastructure. Improved policies in this regard will make a significant difference in accelerating the development of the industry.
“Irrespective of where the country stands today, I feel a responsibility and determination to help drive the development of the mining industry in order to see the financial gains being injected back into Nigeria to see it prosper,” Emotan concludes.