Bumper profit from investment on industrial minerals and construction materials in the Sokoto Basin, Nigeria
The Sokoto Basin, especially Sokoto State has the potential for a profitable investment in the development of the industrial minerals and construction materials sub-sector of the minerals industry. Most of the resources are suitable for small-scale industries. Medium-scale investment may be feasible in some cases.
Sokoto State is bordered by Niger Republic as well as Kebbi State and Zamfara State in Nigeria. Some central products are transported over long distances. A good example is nitrogen fertilizer which was produced at Onne, near Port Harcourt. Undoubtedly, the immense profits that may be derived from investment in the development of industrial minerals and construction materials are not fully appreciated by potential investors. Emphasis had been placed on large scale industries such as the production of Portland Cement. The prolonged search for phosphates between 1980 and 1990 was aimed at locating high grade phosphates for the Superphosphate Plant in Kaduna and perhaps export.
This paper suggests a new frontier based mostly on small-scale industries using industrial minerals and construction materials which occur inappreciable quantities and are very widely distributed.
The Geological Setting of the Sokoto Basin
The Sokoto Basin is Nigeria sector of extensive lullemeden Basin. It predominantly consists of a gently undulating plain with elevation varying from 250 to 400 meters above sea level. Mesas and outliers occasionally interrupt the plain. The Dange Scarp' extends south westwards to the outcropping rocks of the Precambrian Basement Complex. There exists a high drainage density stream dissection resulting in deeply incised ravines.
There are three major stratigraphic subdivisions
3. Continental deposits of Upper Eocene Miocene age [Continental Terminal]- Gwandu Formation
2. Intermediate marine and brackish water deposits.
- Sokoto Group
ii. Kalambina Formation [Palaeocene]
i. Dange Formation
- Rima Group
iii. Wurno Formation
ii. Dukamaje Formation
i. Taloka Formation
1. The Lower Continental Beds [ Continental Intercalarie] of Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous age]
- Gundumi Group
Gundumi Formation and Illo Formation
Industrial Minerals and Construction Materials Resources
Kaolin and other clays
Gemstones (Industrial minerals)
The broad location of these raw materials and suggestions of possible uses and production processes may be found in Trammel (R&D) Mineral Development Circular (2005). Some information may be obtained from Nwabufo-Ene (2004).
Three commodities are briefly reviewed herein:
ii)Fertilizers and soil conditioners
iii)Kaolin and other clays
Limestone may be used to produce the following items (excluding cement)
Glazes and enamel
Cut and polished stone
[see also fertilizers and soil conditioners]
ii) Fertilizers and soil conditioners
a) Phosphates (phosphorus)
The phosphate resources have been reviewed by earlier authors [Nwabufo-Ene 2004, among others].The lower and medium grade phosphates [10%-30%] are abundant in many parts of the state. Small-scale plants could produce phosphates for direct application. Two possibilities may be noted:
PR- phosphate rock
PAPR partially acidulated phosphate
Trials rock has shown the effectiveness of using these as source for P'. PAPR could be based on phosphates and pyrites.
b) Nitrogen Fertilizer
Limestone may be used to produce nitrogen fertilizers on very small scale using the Electric Arc Process. The raw materials are:
Electric Arc equipment
By substituting phosphate for limestone a combined product of nitrogen/phosphorus is possible.
Other major nutrients
Small-scale plants may produce other major nutrients such as:
Small-scale plants may produce soil conditioners
i) For correcting excess acidity limestone
ii) For improving structure of soils appropriate rock materials
iii) For correcting alkalinity gypsum, marcasite
Kaolin and other clays
Clays of various types and possible uses occur in the basin. A classification (or definition) of these clays is essential.
The type include:
Kaoline [China clay]
Geological mapping on large scales with support of appropriate techniques in geophysics may produce good results.
Economics of development resources
The economic equation [Nwabufo-Ene 2004] is relevant in this regard. It emphasizes a dynamic balance between the extractive sector and non- extractive sector and may be put simply as:
Extractive sub sector non extractive sub sector
Each sub-sector must stimulate relevant activities in the other sector, for industrial progress to be recorded.
Many of the resources are amenable. Single families; small-scale companies or co-operatives may participate. In all cases, the government ought to act as promoter and regulator while the mining units are the owners and operators.
This paper aims at stimulating interest of investors in small-scale or medium scale mining operations and the production of goods for the market. Profits may be maximized by ensuring adequate pre-feasibility and feasibility studies especially with respect to reserves, quality, processing and market strategies. Fortunately some of the raw materials may require simple processing such as calcinations, mechanical breakdown and size sorting.
Nwabufo-Ene 2004 Mineral Resources in Sokoto State and Industrialization-Special Paper, Economic Retreat Sokoto State Government, Sokoto 20p
Trammel (R&D) Mineral Development 2005 Trammel Circular No11 21p