By Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
A report released by
The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has revealed that a total of 49,868 tonnes of lead were exported between 2013 and 2017, while 30,768 tonnes of zinc were similarly exported within the same period.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Abubakar Bawa Bwari, disclosed this at a groundbreaking and foundation laying ceremony of the Lead & Zinc processing plant in Ebonyi State.
He said: “According to Customs export records, 49,868 tonnes of lead were exported between 2013 and 2017, while 30,768 tonnes of zinc were similarly exported within the same period.
“It is therefore not surprising that most of the revenue derived from the sector are through royalties and foreign exchange earnings from the exportation of our mineral resources.
“These minerals, including zinc and lead, are mostly exported in raw form which typically contains 5 per cent lead when a simple processing can turn it into lead concentrate of 50 – 70 per cent lead and thus bring in more revenue.”
The minister further said: “According to the International Lead Zinc Study Group, zinc demand is set to rise globally by 1.1% in 2019 (up to 13.88 MT) while Lead demand growth is projected to hit 0.7% in 2019.
“The global market for lead is driven by developments in the automobile market, and the infrastructure industry, which includes telecommunications, and power generation and transmission sectors.
“Moreover, according to the London Metal Exchange, the prices of these commodities range from $2,500 per metric ton for zinc and $1,900 per (mt) of lead with a possibility of increasing to $2,800 by end of the year. It is therefore clear that lead and zinc are very favourable resource potentials, and the rising international commodity price for refined metals make this project a worthwhile venture capable of huge returns on investment.
“It is also important to note that whereas the global lead/zinc ore is 6 per cent, some ores, particularly in the Bauchi area, has ore of up to 22 per cent. The natural endowment of Nigeria is therefore not in doubt.”
Bwari, in a statement by his Media Aide Ishaku Kigbu weekend in Abuja, stated that it is common knowledge that Zinc and lead are the two most widely used non-ferrous metals after aluminium and copper, and are therefore vital materials in everyday life.
He said: “Interestingly, from its records, Tongyi remains one of the foremost exporters of lead zinc in Nigeria, which makes their desire to set up a concentrate plant in the country a most welcoming idea.
“Nigeria is well endowed in lead and zinc which occurs as ores of galena and sphalerite in the cretaceous sediments of the Benue trough spanning the South-east and North.”
He further revealed in the statement that: “According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the mining and metals sector can easily become the largest employer of labour, since mineral deposits occur in virtually every part of Nigeria.
“However, in order for this to happen, we must develop the downstream sector through beneficiation in order to increase profits dramatically, and provide more opportunities for employment in mining sites all over the country.
“We are beginning to see the results of this government’s commitment to the transformation of the mining industry to act as a catalyst for wealth creation and employment generation.
“I am convinced that these are merely the first fruits of development in the downstream sector and soon we will begin to see the emergence of mineral processing and smelting plants all over the country. This will bring about the much needed value addition, industrialisation, and massive job creation.”
“Just last week I was in Mowe, Ogun State, to perform the ground-breaking ceremony of the first gold refinery in Nigeria, so being here today is a clear testimony of the growing confidence of investors in the mining sector.
“I believe that the completion of this mineral processing plant with a 500 ton daily capacity will have a multiplier effect on the economy since battery production factories can receive essential raw inputs from the plants while other allied companies in steel, cosmetics, automobile and pharmaceuticals can also benefit from this project.
“As we continue to make efforts to lay a solid foundation for sustainable mining in Nigeria, this groundbreaking event gives us the assurance that we are on the right path,” Bwari said.