Nigeria is blessed with abundant mineral resources, which are from time immemorial formed the backbone of the nation’s economic and industrial development aspirations. Prior to independence, the nation’s mineral raw material resources contributed immensely to the export earnings of the nation.
For over three decades, the Country has continued to depend entirely on oil for her revenue and the volatile nature of the oil market has made it imperative for us to diversify the mono-product economy through exploitation and processing of our abundant solid mineral resources. The clamour for resource control being advocated by states with petroleum resources in their domain makes it imperative for us to develop, exploit, process and utilize our solid minerals – particularly Non-metallic Minerals as every part of this country is blessed with one or more solid mineral that could yield substantial revenue for sustainable development.
Exploitation of the Non-metallic Minerals has not attained the desired level, mainly because of the various constraints associated with their exploitation, development and processing for utilization. Many of the non-metallic minerals, which are vital to the industrial take off of the country, have been found in commercial quantities within the country.
They include limestone, mica, dolomite, marble, kaolin, barite, diatomite, feldspar, quartz and silica sands, gypsum, talc, silimanite, kyanite, phosphate, salt and bentonite.
Muscovite is a phyllosilicate mineral of aluminium and potassium. It has a highly-perfect basal cleavage yielding remarkably-thin laminæ (sheets) which are often highly elastic.
Muscovite is the most common mica, found in granites, pegmatites, gneisses, and schist’s, and as a contact metamorphic rock or as a secondary mineral resulting from the alteration of topaz, feldspar, kyanite, etc. In pegmatites, it is often found in immense sheets that are commercially valuable.
Mica is common in all the three major rock varieties, which are igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. It occurs in igneous rocks such as granites and pegmatite; in metamorphic rocks like gneisses and schist; and in sedimentary rocks like sandstones, clays, etc.
Mica is widely distributed all over Nigeria. Substantial quatities are found in the siliceous gneisses and pegmatite of Moriki district in Zamfara State, also in Kogi, Rivers, Nassarawa, Ogun, Ekiti and some other states.
By virtue of its chemical and physical properties, mica has historically found a niche in a range of industries. In the last two or three centuries the range of uses has been widened.
The introduction of wet and dry ground, micronised, built-up, reconstituted and paper forms of mica have expanded the markets demand for mica, which previously was only served by sheet mica. The principal markets are construction, coatings, plastics, electronics, paper and drilling mud.
This report seeks to examine the financial viability or otherwise of mining mica sheets in Nigeria.
The business entails using mechanized method of mining to produce three thousand, two hundred (3,200) tons of golden-white (some with black) with 50-65% transparency and flakes size of 5 – 20 mesh/1 – mm muscovite mica sheets.