The concentrations of minerals and trace elements in the Lokpanta oil shale from the Lower Benue Trough, Nigeria have been determined by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), respectively. X-ray diffraction data were evaluated using the SIROQUANT™ interactive data processing system based on Rietveld interpretation methods. A new method of trace element determination in oil shale, involving LA-ICP-MS analysis of glass beads prepared by fusing oil shale ash on an iridium strip heater was used, and the accuracy of the method was assessed by including a standard shale reference material (SGR-1b) in the analysis program. The minerals in the raw oil shales are mainly quartz, calcite and clay minerals, with the latter being represented by kaolinite and interstratified illite/smectite. Ashes of the oil shale samples prepared at 815 °C have quartz and (in some cases) illite as the dominant mineral phases, along with a significant proportion of amorphous materials. The Lokpanta oil shales are highly enriched in some potentially hazardous trace elements, including V, Cr and Ni, when compared with oil shales from other deposits around the world. The results obtained for the trace elements in the reference material show that the LA-ICP-MS method described in this study is very accurate and precise for the determination of a wide range of trace elements in oil shales.