Exclusive interview with Lolade Ososami, Partner at the leading Nigerian legal advisory firm UUBO, Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, who have partnered as gold sponsors with the upcoming Nigeria Mining Week Digital Event.
Let’s start with some background on UUBO, there is a proud history there.
Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, also known as UUBO to our clients and friends, is a full service, multi-disciplinary law ﬁrm that is focused on facilitating corporate and commercial business throughout Nigeria, and across Africa.
We were founded in 1983 and since then we have evolved into a multi-disciplinary, 15-partner concern with 137 professional employees, including more than 70 lawyers, with offices in Nigeria’s key commercial centres.
As a firm, we have developed a reputation for being trusted with innovative assignments, facilitating complex, unusual transactions, resolving a broad range of disputes, generating legal solutions within a relatively short space of time.
How is the company involved in the mining industry?
We are legal advisers to mining companies and investors seeking interests in the Nigerian mining sector. We assist with license applications and renewal; we advise on acquisition of mining titles and assets; efficient tax structures for mining concerns in Nigeria; community relations and ESG compliance; foreign investment and exchange control issues; and labour and employee related matters.
Any exciting projects that you are involved with at the moment that you can share?
We are legal advisers to Kogi Iron Limited, sponsors of the Agbaja Cast Steel Project, and its Nigerian subsidiary, KCM Mining Limited.
The objective of the Agabaja Cast Steel project, which has been described by the Nigerian Minister for Mining and Steel Development, is the production of cast steel billets for domestic use to replace imported scrap steel and eventually for export. The project meets the beneficiation policy of the Nigerian government in relation to the mining sector.
Has COVID-19 affected these operations?
The COVID-19 pandemic has stalled the fund raising activities of Kogi Iron Limited to a relative degree. However, with clear COVID-19 related workplace guidelines and policies, the company has continued operations which include the excavation of a small-scale trial ore mining pit.
In your view, has the mining sector improved its use of digital, robotics and other technologies as a result of lockdown, travel bans etc?
The mining sector definitely suffered some set back as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many projects have been put on hold as a result of travel bans and government mandated lockdowns.
However, the use of digital and robotic technology in mining is appears to be gradually gaining ground in developed mining jurisdictions since the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the lockdown, some mining companies are exploring the use of mining robots, automamted drill rigs and trucks to support their operations.
In Nigeria, remote sensing technology is being deployed to monitor artisenal and small-scale mining (ASM) activities. Drone technology is also gaining ground especially in relation to surveying and mapping.
Any other lessons you have learnt in the course of this pandemic?
One of the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic is the realization that with every challenge comes an opportunity, and businesses that will survive the pandemic are those that must be willing to do things differently.
Your view of Nigeria as a mining investment destination?
Nigeria has a huge potential as a mining destination in Africa, given the diversity and the quantum of its mineral deposits. The legal and regulatory framework is fairly straightforward and not too onerous.
The country has enjoyed relative political stability and offers a number of tax and investment incentives for interested investors. There are opportunities for upstream and downstream development as well as for capacity building and now is the best time for investors to explore these opportunities.
Why the decision to join us as a gold sponsor for Nigeria Mining Week the Digital Event in October?
For many years Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie has been quietly providing legal support in the area of mining. Our participation as a gold sponsor gives us an opportunity to demonstrate our expertise in this area through knowledge sharing.
What are you most looking forward to at the event?
We hope our round table discussion on ESG will be of keen interest to many of the participants and companies can learn about identifying and managing ESG risks.
Anything you would like to add?
The Nigerian mining sector is ready for business and offers opportunities for foreign and domestic investment. Like any other sector, there are risks, but with sound professional advice, these risks can be managed.