Minerals are naturally occurring substances that are found in the earth, or under the ground. Many minerals are of value because of the many varied and practical uses that they have for society, while other minerals are of value because of their beauty, scarcity, and enduring nature. From a strict observatory point of view, minerals can be a blessing to the people- it is the misuse of this blessing or the greed that comes with this blessing that results in mineral deposits becoming a curse to the society in whose lands it may be found.
In this article, however, we will be looking at the importance of mineral resources in Nigeria’s economy and the benefits that they have as well as talking about their practical uses.
Importance of Mineral Resources in Nigeria
Nigeria is the largest oil-producing country in Africa and a major supplier of oil in the world. According to proven oil and gas reserves that have been discovered, Nigeria has 23 billion barrels of crude oil and 160 trillion cubic meters of gas according to sources of the Nigerian Government. Nigerian oil has very low-sulfur content and no lead. It also has high paraffin content. Its gravity is 36 API for Bonny Lite Crude, and 20-23 API for medium and heavier types. Most of Nigeria’s oil wells also have gas caps.
Importance: Crude oil is extremely important to Nigeria. It is the country’s major export and brings in most of the country’s money. Crude oil demand and price are the major factors upon which the country’s budget estimate is formulated.
Uses: Crude oil is the natural substance from which petrol, diesel, kerosene, and jet fuel are made through the process of distillation.
Gold is the oldest currency in the world that is still in use. It is also a very precious metal, against which most countries in the world back up their economies by purchasing and keeping huge stores of this mineral in special vaults. Nigeria has proven deposits of gold, particularly in the south-western part of the country. However, the reserves are mainly alluvial and today are being extracted by private individuals in small quantities.
Uses: Gold has a special place in the world because it has a history of value that dates back to thousands of years of use as an intrinsic store of value. Gold is also used to make jewelry which also has an enduring quality. There are gold jewelry in existence today that were made thousands of years ago and are of immense monetary value.
Historians and other academics usually refer to the Iron Age as a long-gone period, as if to say the uses of Iron have reduced, or its importance has diminished with the passing of time. That is not true. Iron still plays a vital role in the development of society. Nigeria is blessed with more than 3 billion metric tons of iron ore which is found in deposits in Kogi, Enugu and Niger States and also the Federal Capital Territory- Abuja. Iron ore mining is done mainly in Kogi state, and the deposits are so rich that we receive up to 67 percent of iron.
Iron plays a vital role in the construction industry, either as wrought iron or as steel. Many tools in every sector of the world still use Iron. From the manufacturing industry to the agricultural sector, even down to military uses- they all depend on iron to make the heavy equipment. Much of this iron is used locally, as Nigeria still has a lot of infrastructural development to do.
Nigeria has more than 40 million tones of talc deposits- which makes Nigeria one of the major names to be mentioned once the conversation is about talc. The deposits are mainly situated in Niger, Osun, Kogi, Ogun and Kaduna states of the country. The talc industry produces 3 thousand tons of industry-grade talc a year.
Talc is one of the minerals in the world with many diverse uses, in many industries of the world. The extraction of huge talc deposits can satisfy local and international needs.
Gypsum is another mineral that is abundant in Nigeria. Perhaps one of the most abundant solid minerals in Nigeria to be precise. There are about 1 billion tonnes of Gypsum deposited by nature in many states of the country.
Gypsum is an important ingredient in cement manufacturing. It is also used for other demands. At present, cement production is 8 million tons a year and the Nigerian demand is 9.6 million tons, so you see there is still a lot of work to do so as to meet the local demand, and then increase the reach of the industry into other markets.
Lead and Zinc Minerals
Nigeria has about 10 million tons of lead and zinc which are found in natural deposits situated in eight about 8 states in the country.
Lead is used for producing ammunition for military uses, it is also the mineral of choice when producing diodes for batteries for vehicles. Lead has many other industrial uses as well.
Zinc is used for coating roofing materials, and also for making batteries for small gadgets like torches, radios and so on. There is a great global demand for both lead and zinc, and this can translate into a lot of money as well.
Bentonite and Baryte
Nigeria has bentonite deposits of more than 700 million tons, and they are situated in many states all over the geographical regions of Nigeria. There are also over 7.5 million tons of Baryte in the country, and they complement the oil industry.
These minerals are the main components from which the drilling fluid for all types of oil wells are manufactured, and so they play a vital role in the development of the oil industry.
Nigeria has bitumen reserves of over 42 billion tons. That means that Nigeria has Bitumen reserves that are two times larger than its crude oil deposits.
Bitumen (also called coal tar) is usually used as an asphalt binder in the road construction industry. Currently, this mineral is not exploited at full strength because a lot of bitumen used in Nigeria for road construction is imported today. However, when there is adequate investment in this sector Nigeria could supply bitumen to many countries of the world.
Coal was at one time the most sought after energy source in the world, and even today there are still a few coal-powered steam engine trains in the world.
Nigeria coal is one of the most bituminous because it has a low sulfur and ash content. It is one of the most environmentally-friendly brands of coal in the world. Nigeria has about 3 billion tons of coal deposits in about 17 detected coal deposits. This, however, is a mineral of the past and present, but not of the future.
Nigeria has salt deposits at Awe in Plateau state, Abakaliki, and Uburu in Ebonyi state of the country. At the same time, rock salt is found in commercial quantity in Benue state. The salt deposits of 1.5 million tons are documented, and there is much more to be discovered on research.
Rock salt has many uses even in agriculture and many other sects of the economy. That means that it is a potential money-spinning as a mineral of commercial value.
Conclusion On The Importance of Mineral Resources in Nigeria Economy
Nigeria has spent too much time focusing exclusively on the oil industry to the detriment of other sectors or minerals which can also contribute immensely to the wealth of the country. If there is a change in government policy in this regard then there is a chance of great improvement in the country’s revenue flow.
That’s all on the Importance of Mineral Resources in Nigeria.
- PROBLEMS OF MINERAL EXPLOITATION IN NIGERIA AND SOLUTIONS
- List of Mineral Resources in Nigeria and Their Location
- Types Of Crude Oil In Nigeria & Benefits
- Types Of Precious Stones Found In Nigeria
- COMPONENTS OF NIGERIAN MINING INDUSTRY
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