Why Nigeria launched ‘airborne geophysical survey’

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The need for accurate data in the mining sector is behind the recent launch of airborne geophysical survey operations by the Nigerian government in partnership with the World Bank, the director general of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency, Rasak Garba, has told PREMIUM TIMES in an exclusive interview.

Mr Garba, in a telephone interview with our reporter, said the operation is part of the country’s Mineral Support for Economic Diversification (MinDiver) Project.

According to the DG, the World Bank had engaged some companies to carry out the operations and these companies were responsible for the recent launch of two aircraft to commence the operation.

Aircraft and acquisition

The agency’s helmsman also debunked the claim that the Nigerian government acquired the two mini aircraft for the airborne geophysical survey operations, describing as misleading the reports in some dailies that the government acquired the aircraft.

Mr Garba said the agency has previously embarked on a high altitude geophysical survey covering the entire country with the discovery of some areas regarded as “proof of concept.”

“These are the areas we think based on our interpretation are considered good but then we need to do what we call high resolution that would help get a closer look at prospective areas for generation of necessary information,” he said.

He added that 19 states were identified based on-going mining activities in some areas and the availability of previously gathered airborne data that suggest there might be some potential mineralisation or host to mineralisation in those areas “for the airborne activities to kick-start the project.”

“So based on this we carved out those areas and designed a flight pattern for the survey to be carried out,” he added.

He said the aircraft will be flying as low as 50 metres (approximately 15 storey-building) to enhance high resolution images.


However, the director general said to avoid panic by the people who might be scared of the sight and sound of the aircraft and in order not to misconstrue the operations for acts of terrorism, the agency had embarked on sensitisation activities in the concerned states.

“I have been on a sensitisation programme in Kwara while some of my colleagues have been to Kaduna and others have gone to other parts of the country such as Ekiti and Ondo States. We have engaged the government officials and traditional rulers in these states to assist us in passing the information.

“We also made fliers and jingles on the radio so that people will not think Boko Haram is taking over the place. The essence is to sensitise the people.”


Some persons have applauded the government for the efforts, saying if properly done, the data that may be derived would attract both local and foreign investments to the sector.

They said the sector contributes less than one per cent to the national gross domestic product (GDP) despite several reforms geared towards repositioning the sector as a major revenue driver.

In his reaction, the president, Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Kabiru Kankara, said his organisation is delighted by what he described as a laudable foresight.

“Having these types of aircraft that can help enhance data collection and data capturing of our reserves and mineral locations is long overdue and we are happy it became reality. We hope the NGSA will take the opportunity to enhance their data collection and data acquisition programme. This would go a long way for exploration activities.

“We are excited as miners because this is what we have been waiting for. And it will go a long way in enhancing the confidence of our foreign partners and investors. No investor will come and invest in any environment when there is no proper data that can guide you to know if it is viable or not. So it is a welcome development.”

About the NGSA

The Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) is an agency under the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development which is charged with the responsibility of providing updated relevant geoscience information necessary for economic development of the country.


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