The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has revealed that limestone was the most produced solid minerals in 2016. According to the NBS in its States Disaggregated Mining and Quarrying Data for 2016, it revealed that Limestone is the most produced solid minerals in 2016 with 28,204,522.91 tons of limestone produced representing about 64.84% of the total tons of minerals produced.
In its report, it disclosed, “Granite and laterite followed closely with 5,846,368.08 and 2,160,737.61 tons produced representing 13.44% and 4.97% of the total tons of minerals produced in 2016.”
Nigeria is richly endowed with a variety of solid minerals ranging from precious metals various stones to industrial minerals such as barytes, gypsum, kaolin and marble. Most of these are yet to be exploited. Statistically, the level of exploitation of these minerals is very low in relation to the extent of deposits found in the country.
According to the report, Nigeria produced 43,495,423.12 tons of solid minerals in 2016 with Ogun State being the highest producer with 16,376,547.50 tons of solid minerals representing 37.65% of the total tons of solid minerals produced.
It said, “Ogun State produced the highest tons of solid minerals among the 36 States and the FCT. The State produced 16,376,547.50 tons of solid minerals representing 37.65% of the total tons of solid minerals produced in the year under review.
“Kogi and Cross River States followed closely with 12,739,318.65 and 2,997,678.73 tons of solid minerals produced representing about 29.29% and 6.89% of the total tons of the minerals produced while Borno and Yobe States, both from the North Eastern Zone, produced the least tons of solid minerals with 1,250 and 883.08 tons of minerals produced respectively.
The Nigerian Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative, (NEITI) report suggests that there are over 30 different kinds of solid minerals and precious metals (Sapphire, Aquamarine, Topaz etc.) buried in Nigerian soil waiting to be exploited.
Limestone is widespread in the sedimentary basins of Nigeria. It is used extensively in cement production, as flux and refractory material, metallurgical applications etc.
Prominent reserve has been proved to exist all over the country. The marble and dolomite deposits in Nigeria are often associated with the meta-sediments such as schist, amphibolites complex and metal-conglomerates. They are also used as flux in steel making.
Further analysis of the report by the NBS revealed that Lagos State produced a total of 548,246.23 tons of Solid Minerals in 2016 while Rivers State produced a total of 22,300.42 tons of Solid Minerals in 2016.
According to the report, among the solid mineral resources produced, Aquamarine and Beryl Ore are the least produced solid minerals in 2016.
However, industry watchers believe that the Supply of processed or granulated marble/limestone to end-users has not met demand.
According to them, supply of this quality has largely not been met by small-scale millers whose pooled production output is inadequate.
They however said what is urgently required in the marble/limestone industry now, is the establishment of grinding/processing industries, for value added primary products.
Limestone/Marble deposits provide the raw materials for the cement factories at Calabar, Cross River state; Sokoto, Sokoto state; Nkalagu, Enugu state; Okpella, Edo state); Ashaka, Gombe state; Gboko, Benue state; Ewekoro and Shagamu Ogun state; and Obajana in Kogi state.
The production trend has been influenced by activities in the construction industry especially cement production.
The business involves the sourcing of Limestone/Marble, milling and packaging same for sale to cement, paper, paint, chemical and rubber industries.
There are tremendous opportunities for investments in the solid mineral sector of the Nigerian economy. Prospecting licenses for investors (both local and foreign) to participate in the exploitation of the vast mineral resources in Nigeria is granted by the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals Development.
One of the objectives of the new National Policy on Solid Minerals is to ensure the orderly development of the mineral resources of the country.