Australia says it is interested in enhancing its partnership with Nigeria in the area of mining.
Mining in Australia is a significant primary industry and contributor to its economy with the country reportedly among the top five mining nations globally.
Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Paul Lehmann, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday that Australia was willing to harness Nigeria’s mineral potentials and expand relations between both countries.
Lehmann said there were “enormous opportunities in Nigeria’s mining sector with some of the world’s highest-grade mineral deposits found in the country.
“For us, it is not all about gaining expertise, or the experience but also the willingness to engage with countries that are invigorating their mineral sector.
“For our Australian mining companies, Nigeria should be seen as a land of opportunity.
“Certainly, there are challenges in Nigeria, but it is so for any mining company when it comes to infrastructure, and other elements of doing business.
“What we want to do is to work together with the Nigerian government to make the connections between the expertise, the experience, the know-how and the equipment, and the investment fund in some cases,” Lehmann said.
The envoy said that there were Australian mining companies already active in Nigeria who sought other ways to develop the mining sector.
“That is an ongoing story, we are hoping that in months and years announcements will be made of production and development of those deposits,” he said.
He also said that trade relations between both countries were “patchy and often dominated by the Nigerian side by its export of crude oil.
He added that Australia’s main exports to Nigeria were wheat products and both countries had shared interests to enhance relations in other areas to move beyond “bulk commodities.
“We are looking at how to increase trade and services and other manufactured products; food and beverages and to bring the trade relations up-to-date and forward.”
In the areas of education, Lehmann said that there were 2000 Nigerian students currently studying in different institutions in Australia.
“A few years ago, it was about a few 100 Nigerian students studying in Australia. When you think about the potential for that number to increase further that is a great course for excitement and opportunity.”
The envoy further expressed his government’s commitment to providing scholarships for Nigerians to study for Masters Degrees and in short courses to develop their expertise in areas of priority to the country.
“In addition to a growing number of fee paying students in Nigeria, we continue to offer our Australia Award Scholarships.
“In fact, only a couple of weeks ago, we said farewell to the latest 22 cohorts Nigerians leaving to study in Australia.
“They will apply their acquired expertise to solve development challenges in Nigeria, as well as to apply what they have learnt to the Nigerian experience.”