Phosphate rock refers to a mineral assemblage that occurs naturally with an exceptionally high concentration of phosphate minerals. Phosphate usually occurs as the mineral apatite, Ca5F(PO4)3 in igneous and metamorphic rocks. It may be derived from a number of sources but the most common is the one that contains high concentration of phosphates in nodular or compact masses.
The Nigerian phosphate rock deposits are sedimentary in origin. They occur mostly in granular, nodular and vesicular forms with an average weight percent of P205 varying from 34.5 to 36.25%, which compares favourably with the phosphate at Hahotos, Togo (36.6%).
Occurrences of phosphate rock are known in Sokoto, Abia, Cross Rivers, Kogi, Ondo and Ogun States. The deposits of phosphate beds in the Sokoto embayment represent southward extension of the deposits in Niger Republic.
The deposits are found in areas within the geological feature termed the Illummeden Basin.
Phosphate fertilizer and detergents are the major user industries of phosphate rock. Metal treatment, water treatment, pulp and paper, glass and ceramics, textiles, plastics, rubber, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, petroleum production, toothpaste, paints, fuels, cells are other end-user industries of phosphate rock.
Since phosphates are produced in a few countries and are consumed in most, there is a large international trade in phosphate rock, phosphoric acid and phosphate fertilizer. Growth in fertilizer demand worldwide is expected to average annual 2.7% over the next few years, which will directly increase demand for phosphate rock.
The Federal super-phosphate Company, Kaduna and the National Fertlizer Company, Port-Harcourt requires about 300,000 tonnes of phosphate rock per annum. Other areas of phosphate use are in Flame retarder/fire extinguisher production, food and beverage industries, dentistry etc. All these would also increase future demand.
This report seeks to examine the financial viability or otherwise of mining phosphate ore in Nigeria.