The Solid Minerals Development Fund and OCP Africa Fertilisers Nigeria Limited (OCP), a subsidiary of OCP Group, have signed a technical cooperation agreement for the exploration and development of Nigeria’s phosphate deposits in the Sokoto Basin.
This agreement which was signed in Casablanca, Morocco will ensure technical cooperation between SMDF and OCP Africa, in the fields of phosphates exploration and appraisal; support SMDF effort to develop phosphate mining and provide training and academic exchanges, aimed at developing human capacity in the Nigerian mining sector through the training of exploration geologists and mining engineers.
Based on the success of the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative, the President recently approved the strategic exploration and development of phosphate and potash deposits across the country as an extension of the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative. Nigeria is the biggest agriculture market and crop producer, and amongst the biggest consumers of agricultural nutrients in Africa. With the country’s population projected to hit 400 million by 2050, crop production will need to keep up to ensure agricultural self-sufficiency in the country.
A statement from OCP said the local production of phosphate would provide a cost-effective solution of increasing Nigeria’s phosphate fertilisers application rate which at 2kg/hectare is far below the global average of 16kg/hectare and peer countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia at 19kg/hectare and 13kg/hectare respectively.
Speaking on the strategic partnership, Hajiya Fatima Umar Shinkafi – Executive Secretary, Solid Minerals Development Fund stated that “Phosphate is one of the 5 strategic minerals that have been identified by the SMDF for immediate intervention. Agriculture and mining have been put in the forefront of the current government’s priorities; and agro-minerals (e.g. phosphate) readily provides a good link between the two important subsectors of the economy.
Based on regional application rates, Nigeria has the potential to consume 2.4 million tons of phosphate fertilisers per annum but currently consume less than 200,000 tons, so the exploitation of Sokoto Phosphate Deposits provides an economically viable method of achieving this potential. This technical cooperation agreement is a direct result of the extensive engagement between His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and His Majesty the King, Mohammed VI, King of Morocco. I want to thank the Honourable Ministers of Solid Minerals and Steel Development and the Permanent Secretary for the unwavering support for the Fund and its mandates.”
In his remarks, Mohamed Hettiti – Managing Director, OCP Africa Fertilisers Nigeria Limited, stated, “the Solid Minerals Development Fund targets development of phosphate mining industry in Nigeria and that is why OCP will leverage on its capabilities and technical know how to achieve those objectives. We shall join forces to support SMDF effort in strengthening the country’s phosphate mining capabilities and capacities to allow Nigeria support the Agricultural Sector with local sources of phosphate.”