Natural resources in Nigeria are numerous, ranging from agricultural resources to water resources down to mineral resources. This article will discuss the top 13 mineral resources in Nigeria and their location.
First, what is a mineral resource? Mineral resources are materials of economic interest found in or on the earth's crust in such quality, quantity and form that can be considered for economic extraction. This ranges from quartz, to a rock salt down to the highly valued petroleum and gold. Nigeria is blessed with abundant mineral resources in such quantities that are large enough to draw the attention of the government for it exploration or in small quantities that are left for local miners. Let take a look at the 13 most important minerals in Nigeria.
1. PETROLEUM AND NATURAL GAS
The list of mineral resources in Nigeria is not complete without these two. Petroleum and Natural gas goes hand in hand. This means anywhere there is petroleum, crude oil is also present. Crude oil is the most important mineral resources in Nigeria and the one our economy largely depend on. It was first discovered in large quantity in 1959 at Oloibiri, Bayelsa state and since then had become the major source of income for Nigeria.
About 2.5 million barrels of crude oil is produced in a day in Nigeria making it Africa’s largest producer of petroleum and the 6th largest in the world. Currently, Nigeria has a proven oil deposit of 23 billion barrels while that of natural gas reserve is put at 160 trillion cubic meters. All these are produced in the 9 oil producing states located mostly in the Niger Delta Region. These states include Akwa Ibom (the largest oil producer), Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Edo, Abia, Imo, Ondo and Lagos state.
Nigeria has 4 oil refineries that can’t be said to be functioning. 2 are situated in Rivers state, 1 in Warri, Delta state and the remaining one is in Kaduna. It is worthy of notice that despite the large deposit and exploration of oil in the Niger Delta Region as well as it environmental problems, the people in this area still live in abject poverty.
While petroleum is our main source of energy today, Coal was one of the earliest sources of non-renewable energy used in powering engines. The exploration of coal in Nigeria started much earlier in 1916 at the Ogbete Mine in Enugu although it was first discovered in 1909. The Nigerian coal is regarded as one of the best coal in the world due to its low sulphur and ash content which makes it eco-friendly.
It had been inferred from studies that there are nearly 3 billion tonnes of indicated coal reserve in 17 identified coal field. However, only 600 million are proven to be present. This mineral resource in Nigeria is not widely used as a result of the shift from using coal to diesel and gas. However, foreign countries such as the United Kingdom and Italy had shown interest in it. Currently, the mines had been deserted and the Government is even planning of privatizing it. The states coal can be found in Nigeria include Enugu (largest producer), Benue, Nasarawa, Ondo, Plateau and Zamfara.
This is one of the mineral resources in Nigeria that is underutilized yet has a lot of application. It is an important input for the production of cement as well as the production of Plaster of Paris (P.O.P) and the popular classroom chalks. It had been stated that a strategy for large-scale mining of gypsum is urgently required to sustain the existing plants and meet the future expansion. Currently, cement production is put at 8 million tonnes per annum while the national requirement is 9.6 million tonnes. About one billion tonnes of gypsum deposits are spread over many states in Nigeria. States that have large deposit of gypsum include Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Kogi, Ondo and Sokoto.
Limestone is one mineral in Nigeria with a lot of uses however, most of the limestone exploration in Nigeria are done for the production of cement. Aside cement production, this strategic natural resource in Nigeria is also made into crushed stone and used as a construction material. It is used as a crushed stone for road base and railroad ballast. Some also use it in the production of concrete. Simply put, limestone is an important mineral in the construction industry in Nigeria. It had been observed from studies that limestone deposits in Nigeria are about 2.3 trillion metric tons with 568 million tons of proven reserves.
Most of these are located in the Southwest and Middle belt regions of the country. The states where limestone is found in commercial quantities are Kogi, Sokoto, Cross Rivers, Enugu, Gombe and Benue.
Bitumen is another important natural mineral resources found in Nigeria. Bitumen deposits in Nigeria is indicated at about 42 billion tonnes; almost twice the amount of existing reserves of crude petroleum. Analytical results suggest that this potential resource can be used directly as an asphalt binder. However, most bitumen used for road construction in Nigeria is currently imported since the mineral is not been exploited. Most of the bitumen deposit in Nigeria is found in the South Western region. These include states like Ogun, Lagos and Ondo. The mineral is also found in Edo state.
6. IRON ORE
This is another important mineral resource in Nigeria with it largest deposit at Itakpe, Kogi state. There is about 3 million metric tonnes of Iron ore in the country. With this large deposit of Iron ore in the country, the National Iron Ore Mining Company was established in 1979 to explore and provide iron ore to the Ajaokuta Steel Company at Ajaokuta, Kogi state and the Delta Steel Company at Aladja. However, the exploration of Iron Ore in Nigeria is said to be in a pitiful state with the two steel companies not functional. Aside Kogi state, other states with Iron ore in the country includes the Niger, Enugu and the Federal Capital Territory.
An estimated 10 million tonnes of lead/zinc veins are spread over 8 states of Nigeria. These states include Abia, Abuja, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Benue, Bayelsa, Cross River, Enugu, Ebonyi, Kano, Niger, Plateau and Taraba. Proven reserves in 3 prospects in the east-central area are 5 million tonnes.
Gold need no introduction as a precious mineral. In Nigeria, goold is explored in small scale mostly by local miners and villagers where the gold deposits are located. In essence, gold exploration is not common and it is done at a small scale mostly in the northern part of the country. States that have a substantial amount of gold deposit include Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna, Kwara, Niger, Bauchi, Abuja, Oyo, Edo and Ebonyi state.
Talc is one of the underutilized mineral resources in Nigeria even with it large deposit of 40 million tonnes found in states such as Kaduna, Kogi, Niger, Osun and Ogun. There’s only one talc plant in Nigeria and it is located in Niger state. The talc plant is the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC)'s 3,000 tonnes per annum catalytic Talc plant.
10. KAOLINAn estimated reserve of 3 billion tonnes of good kaolinitic clay has been identified in many states in Nigeria. These states include Adamawa, Borno, Delta, Ekiti, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Ogun, Ondo, Plateau and Sokoto state.
Gemstones mining have boomed in various parts of Plateau, Kaduna and Bauchi states for years. Some of these gemstones include sapphire, ruby, aquamarine, emerald, tourmaline, topaz, garnet, amethyst; zircon, and flourspar which are among the world's best.
12. ROCK SALT
There are indications that there is about 1.5 million tonnes of rock salt deposited in Nigeria. This is a very important mineral resource in Nigeria which is used in the production of caustic soda, table salt, chlorine, sodium hydroxide acid, hydrogen peroxide and sodium bicarbonate. The importance of rock salt in Nigeria is so high that it annual demand had exceeded one million tonnes.
13. BENTONITE AND BARYTE
These are the main constituents of the mud used in the drilling of all types of oil wells. In Nigeria, the baryte has specific gravity of about 4.3. Over 7.5 million tonnes of baryte have been identified in Taraba and Bauchi States. With regards to barite, large reserves of 700 million tonnes are available in many states of the federation.