It is reassuring to note that the government has progressively in recent past years shown great interest in the exploitation of Nigeria’s solid minerals as a means of diversifying our economic base, putting in place the NATIONAL POLICY ON MINERALS METAL IN NIGERIA and other such policy documents in order to drive investment in the sector.
Solid minerals are many types occurring in many diverse environments in response to many diverse geology and geologic events. The resources can nonetheless be discussed under five (5) groups thus:
Iron and Iron-alloy metals
Non-ferrous Industrial metals
The Non-ferrous industrial metals contain a group of minerals which include copper, lead, zinc, tin and aluminium bearing minerals. All are found in Nigeria at varying concentrations and different forms.
Copper (Cu): There are between 150 and 180 copper minerals. Of these, the commonest and the most important form mined are native copper(Cu); oxides of copper: cuprite (Cu2O); tenorite (CuO); and a variety of copper sulphides such as bornite (Cu5FeS4); chalcocite (Cu2S);tetrahedrite [(CuFe)12Sb4S13] and chalcopyrite (Cu2Fe2S4).
Lead (Pb) is next in abundance with 120 to 150 lead-bearings minerals known. The commonest lead ore is the sulphide galena (PbS). Other forms are known but don’t often occur as ore minerals. An important lead mineral worth mentioning is vanadinite (Pb5(VO4)3Cl). This lead mineral is sought, not for its lead but for the strategic metal, vanadium.
Zinc (Zn) is sought as calamine (calamine lotion) also known among mineralogists as hemimorphite: Zn4(OH)2Si2O7.H2O. The most common occurrence is as sulphide: sphalerite (ZnS) and carborate-smithsonite (ZnCO3). There are at least 52 other zinc bearing minerals.
Tin (Sn) occurs mostly as native metal, tin and in combined form as oxide, cassiterite (SnO2). Fifteen (15) other tin bearing minerals are known but these occur as trace minerals in rocks of appropriate composition.
Aluminium (Al) is the most abundant metal (element) on the earth’s crust, next only to silicon. There are over 360 aluminium-bearing minerals. The most important of all, which is a resource, is bauxite: a hydrous aluminium oxide.
It is estimated that Nigeria has over 10,000,000 tons of lead ore deposit and it is an important component in car battery production. The prospect of global economy is promising, so the automotive industry which is closely related to the lead market, is witnessing growth thereby creating more demands for the product.
This report seeks to examine the financial viability or otherwise of establishing Lead ore mine in Nigeria.