Natural Resources, 2011, 2, 87-91
doi: 10.4236/nr.2011.22011 Published Online June 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
A Review of Nigerian Metallic Minerals for
Technological Development
Umar Saidu Bamalli *, Ali Moumouni**, Mohammed Suleiman Chaanda***
*Raw Material and Development Council, Abuja, Nigeria; ** Department of Geology and Mining, Nasarawa State University, Keffi,
Nigeria; ***Department of Earth Sciences, Federal University of Petroleum, Effrun, Nigeria.
Email:,, chaanda05@yah o
Received December 4th, 2010; revised March 4th, 2011; accepted M a r c h 17 th, 2011.
The metallic mineral resources of Nig eria have not been fully appraised due to lack of sufficient stu dies and techno log y.
Previous works iden tified a nu mber o f min erals deposits which have rema in ed larg ely uneva luated . S ome kno wn d epo s-
its were confirmed while new one s were identified and docum en ted. Th e metallic minera ls fo und in Nig eria include iro n
ore (with over 3 billion metric tones), ferro -alloy minerals (manganese, vanadium , nickel, chromite, columbite, molyb-
denum, zircon, wolfram/tungsten tourmaline and tantalite), tin ore (cassiterite), lead/zinc, niobium, uranium ore and
precious metal (Gold). Looking at the diversity of the mineral types and industrial importance of most of them and the
need to exploit and process the minerals for technological development, there is need to build up capability to produce
efficient unit operations of the required sizes by indigenous manufacturers.
Keywords: Metallic Minerals, Technology , Nigeria
1. Introduction
It has been proven that Nigeria is endowed with a lot of
mineral resources. The range of mineral raw materials
and their reserves are so wide that it should not have
been necessary to import industrial miner al raw materials.
Though, the primary mineral can be exploited for Indus-
trial processing, many industries import their mineral
raw materials requirements due mainly to inadequate
technology for transforming raw materials into variety of
products neede d by local i ndu st ri es.
Nigeria, in pursuing the goal of adding value to her
metallic mineral ores, had adopted the mono-cultural
approach which seems to dominate our economic active-
ties. We as people always bemoan our economy which is
precariously based on a mono-p roduct, petroleum. In our
endeavour to tap our metallic mineral resources, we also
became fixated on one metal mineral-iron ore. While the
developed countries are able to exploit their mineral re-
sources efficiently, the developing countries are faced
with inadequ ate capital and a lack of required techno logy,
such that their dependency on the developed countries is
2. Geological S e tting and Occurrence of
Metallic Minerals in Nigeria
The surface area of Nigeria 923,768 sq. km is covered in
nearly equal proportions by crystalline rocks and sedi-
mentary rocks. As a result of nearly 100 years of geo-
logical studies, geological and other related maps, such
as structural/tectonic, minerals, and mines maps have
been produced. From these, the relationship between
geology and economic minerals deposits/occurrences is
clear. The crystalline rocks are further divided into three
main groups viz:
- The Basement Complex
- The Younger Granites
- Tertiary – Recent Volcanics
The sedimentary rocks are distributed over into sedi-
mentary basins which include: The Lower Benue Basin,
the Middle Benue basin, the Upper Benue (Gongola and
Yola Arms), the Anambra Basin, the Bida Basin, the
Sokoto Basin, the Chad (Bornu) Basin, the Dahomey
Basin and the Niger Delta Basin. Within the sedimentary
basins are found a large variety of industrial minerals
such as limestone, salt, clay, gypsum, barites, and energy
raw materials like coal, oil, gas, and bitumen. Also the
sediments hosted non-ferrous base metals such as lead
and zinc occurring in veins (Rahaman, 2003).
This favourable geological setting harbours a wide va-
88 A Review of Nigerian Metallic Minerals for Technological Development
Table 1. Iron ore reserves in Nigeria
Location Fe Fe203 SiO2 Al203 CaO MgO P205 MnO TiO2 Reserved (tonnes)
Agbaja 45-54 62.64 8.55 9.60 0.72 0.38 4.16 0.14 0.37 2 billion
Itakpe 38-45 53.10 44.80 1.00 0.30 0.20 0.05 0.05 0.10 200-300 million
Ajabanoko 35.61 47.74 0.41 0.11 0.05 0.06 30 million
Chokochoko 37.43 47.65 4.30 0.05 0.52 70 million
Agbade Okudu 37.43 29.41 0.62 70 million
Nsude Hills 37.43 60 million
Source: Inventory of Nigerian Minerals, Mi n es and Miners (1993).
riety of minerals which constitute veritab le raw materials
for diverse industries, huge quantities of vital minerals
such as iron-ore, semi precious minerals, tin, lead-zinc,
columbite and ferro-alloy deposits found in traces in dif-
ferent locations in the country.
3. Raw Materials Availability Locally
Metallic minerals, so far discovered in Nigeria include
iron ore, cassiterite, columbite, lead/zinc ores, and ferro-
alloy deposits found in traces in different locations in the
4. Iron Ore
Many deposits of iron-ore have been found in the coun-
try. The types of deposit discovered include haema-
tite-magnetite, haematite-geothite and siderite-geothite.
The deposits are abundant in Kwara, and Kogi States.
Other States where iron ore occurrences have been dis-
covered include Nasarawa, Sokoto, Kaduna, Oyo, Osun,
Bauchi, Borno and Benue. There are over 3 billion met-
ric tonnes of iron ore deposits in the country. Table 1
shows Nigeria’s iron ore r eserves. Other deposits of iron
ore in the country are still under investigation as shown
in Table 2.
5. Ferro-Alloy Minerals
Ferro-Alloys are alloying agents, which are added to
molten iron to obtain desirable properties in steel. They
may deoxidize the molten metal, control grain growth,
neutralising the deleterious effect of non-metallic inclu-
sions, increase metallic resistance to corrosion, improve
toughness, strength and wear resistance. Below is a Ta-
ble 3, showing the locations of the various ferro-alloy
deposits in the country. Columbite, tantalite and zircon
which are allied minerals in most alluvial tin fields and
therefore are by-products of tin exploitation, while other
ferro-alloy minerals deposits are yet to be fully explored
and delineated.
6. Tin Ore (Casseterite)
Prior to the discovery of oil in Nigeria, the major revenue
and source of foreign exchange for the country was from
Table 2. Iron ore reserves under investigation
Muro Hills Nasarawa 25-30
Dakingari Kebbi 22-52
Tajimi Kaduna 22-52
Rishi Bauchi 14-19
Karfa Borno 34-45
Eginija Benue 34-45
Source: Inventory of Nigerian Minerals, Mi n es and Miners (199)3.
Table 3. Ferro-alloy mineral deposits in Nigeria
Manganese Mallam Ayuba, Zaria
To be fully investi-
Vanadium Abuja To be investigated
Nickel Ife-Ilesha To be investigated
Chromite Sokoto and Katsina To be investigated
Columbite Plateau,Nasarawa Kaduna,
Kano, Abuja, Ondo, Kwara
and Bauchi States
Some deposits are
being exploited
Molybdenum Plateau,Nasarawa, Bauchi,
and Ondo States To be further inves-
Zircon Nasarawa, Bauchi, Kaduna
and Ondo States By-product of cas-
seterite beneficiation
Wolfram/Tungsten Nasarawa,Bauchi, Kano and
Kaduna To be investigated
Tourmaline Kaduna, Nasarawa,Plateau &
Kwara States To be fully investi-
Tantalite Plateau, Bauchi, FCT, Nassa-
rawa, Kaduna and Ondo
By-product of cas-
seterite beneficiation
tin mining operation. The mining industry comprised a
large number of foreign companies with small-scale in-
digenous miners. During the tin boom era of the 50 s,
production hit the 12,000 tonnes/annum mark (Table 4
and Figure 1). However, due to the depletion of sub-
surface deposits, production cost had gone up and this,
coupled with the downturn of world tin price, resulted in
the nation’s tin production to an all time low level.
From the geological evidence, there are extensive cas-
seterite deposits lies buried under basalt and volcanic
flows particularly in Plateau, Bauchi, Nassarawa, FCT,
Kano, Kaduna, Kwara, Kogi, Ondo and Osun States.
There is a law banning the exportation of casseterite
and a lot is being smuggled out of the country due to lack
opyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
A Review of Nigerian Metallic Minerals for Technological Development 89
Table 4. Tin in concentrate (Long Tons)
S/N 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Year 1901 1902 1903 19041905 1906 19071908
Tin - - 6 5 2 12 145384
S/N 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1941 1942 1943 19441945 1946 19471948
Tin 12,256 12,601 12,683 12,712 11,403 10,498 9,2799,384
S/N 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
1971 1972 1973 19741975 1976 19771978
Tin 7,326 6,737 5,828 5,455 4,652 3,710 3,2672,751
Source: (After Ifaturoti, 1994)
Figure 1. Tin production in Nigeria between 1901-1978
of company to smelt the ore to produce ingots.
7. Lead and Zinc Ores
Lead and zinc deposits occur in rock of Lower Creta-
ceous age. They are all telethermal in type and orig inated
from low temperature hydrothermal solutions associated
with recent volcanism. Major deposits of lead and zinc
have been found in Nigeria; mineralisation is observed
along a belt some 30 50 kilometres wide and extended
approximately 560 kilometres narrow belt extending
from Ishiagu in Ebonyi State through Benue, Adamawa,
Taraba, Nasarawa and Plateau States to Bauchi State.
Occurrences are known at Ameka, Ameri and Enyigba,
near Abakaliki at Arufu in Benue, Zurak and Gwana in
Bauchi Stat e s.
8. Niobium Ores
The Younger Granite Complex of the Jos Plateau is rich
in columbite (the mineral from which Niobium can be
extracted). Columbite was mined as by-product in the
mining of tin. The metal has a wide application for mak-
ing ferro-alloy where qualities of toughness and shock
resistance are desired. Between 1940 and 1956, Nigeria
accounted for 95% of the Niobium consumed in the
world industry (Ifaturoti, 1994).
Niobium and Tantalum ores are usually found together.
The most important minerals are the mixed iron-man-
ganese niobotantalate-niobite and tantalite, which share
the formula (FeMn) (Nb Ta)5O6. Niobite may contain up
to 34% Ta2O5 and tantalite up to 27% of Nb2O6. Most
other minerals are equally complex and mixed, the next
importance being a series between pyrochlore and mi-
crolite. Distribution is widespread in mineralised region s
but very sparse. Niobite is found with tin in Nigerian
mines. In Nigeria, iron-manganese niobotantalate ores
occur largely in Jos-Bukuru areas of Plateau State (Og-
bonna et al., 1999), the Rop complex, and in the Afu
Ring Complex in Nasarawa State. They occur in the
granitic rocks and pegmatites associated with quartz,
feldspar and beryl.
From the Table 6 above, the Rayfield Gona site has
the richest deposit of co lumbite ore reaching a maximum
content of 11.2 Ibs/tons.
As a result of its occurrence as an accessory mineral,
the bulk of the columbite is extremely fine grained (Beus,
1980). A few exceptionally large crystals may be up to
5mm in length but by far the greater majority is fine
about 60 microns. Most of the columbite has a platly or
particular habit in crystallisation. In all however, the
Nbo/TaO ratio especially in the Younger Granite colu m-
bite is always in excess of 5.1.
9. Uranium Ores
The Uranium deposits have been located in Cross River,
Bauchi, Adamawa/Taraba, Plateau and Kano States. Py-
rochlore, which contains 3.3% uranium oxide, 3.3% tho-
rium oxide and 41.1% niobium and tantalum occur in
Ririwai hills in Kano State.
10. Precious Metals
Gold is the only precious metal that has been produced in
Nigeria. The main areas of mining were Malele, Mal-
endo in Zamfara and Sokoto States; Ife/Ijesha in Osun
State; Minna and Suleja in Niger State, Okolom in Kogi
State, Birnin-Gwari and Kurmin Gemana in Kaduna
11. Classification of Metallic Minerals
Available in Nigeria
1. Metallic minerals being exploited now are: Tin,
Columbite, Gold
2. Metallic minerals whose reserves have been esti-
mated are: Illmenite, Lead/Zinc
3. Metallic min erals whose occurrences are known are:
Wolfram, Molybdenum, Copper
a) There is only one precious mineral i.e. Gold,
Silver is found in small quantities
b) The minerals that produce the non-ferrous
metals are Casseterite, Galena and Sphalerite
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
90 A Review of Nigerian Metallic Minerals for Technological Development
Table 5. Location of Lead/Zinc deposit in Nigeria
State LGA Location Status
Ebonyi Ikwo-Abakaliki Ameri-Ameka Dormant mine
Ebonyi Ikwo-Abakaliki Enyingba Dormant mine high
Ebonyi Ivo Ishiagu Active mine
Ebonyi Izzi Mkpome Active
Cross River Ogoja Wanakande Gabu High prospect
Bauchi Alkaleri Gwana Prospect
Plateau Wase Zurak
Dormant high pros-
Source: (R MRDC, 2005)
Table 6. Primary columbite values in some local bio-
tite-granite rocks
(Ibs/ton) Granite (Ibs/ton) Rop Complex
Sano-Gari 0.08-0.17 Kaskara 0.12
Bukuru 0.18-0.23 Bukuru-Bukwai -
Delimi 0.14-0.16 Microgranite 0.22
Rayfield Gona 0.48-11.2 Bukka-Bukwai 0.05-0.95
Kuru Stock 0.25-0.35 Ganna-Micogranite 0.02-0.05
N’Gel 0.13-0.19 Ganna 0.07-0.12
Jos 0.02-0.06 Kwop Trace
Source: (Ogbonna, 1999)
c) The minerals that produce iron and ferro-al-
loys are: Iron ore, Molybdenite and Tungsten
d) Minerals that produce minor metals are: Beryl,
Monazite, Tantalum, Columbite, Rutile, Illmenite
12. Industries Utilising Metallic Minerals
Available in Nigeria
a) Ajaokuta steel and Delta steel
b) Non-ferrous industries
Makeri Smelting has started utilising tin to produce
solders 41.74 tpa, Sn and car wheel balance weight—
95.82 t—Pb are now being used for the purpose. There is
no smelter for lead and zinc. Therefore all lead and zinc
used in the country is imported.
c) Vehicle assembly plants
Batteries – lead the mineral are known to occur but not
yet exploited.
d) Electrical and electronic industries
These are assembly type operations and all materials
that utilise minerals available in Nigeria are imported e.g.
condensers, cathode, in x-ray tubes, radio but solders are
produced from local tin are not used in electronics.
When the internal consumption of minerals available
in Nigeria is compared with other uses that the mineral
could be put to, it is very clear that:
a) Minerals are not fully harnessed for industrial de-
velopment in Nigeria.
b) Mineral development is so slow because of inade-
quate funding and also lack of awareness on the impor-
tance of the minerals in industrial development. If this
trend continues then there is little hope of fully harness-
ing the mineral resources fully for industrial and techno-
logical development.
Effort is being made to utilise th e minerals and also to
speed up exploratio n and exploitation of the known min-
eral occurrence.
13. Technology Acquisition in Metallic Min-
Many technological goods such as processing equipment
and their components have to be imported. Their impor-
tation does not imply technology acquisition in the real
sense because the country cannot immediately adapt,
manage and generates its technologies from them. How-
ever, the influence of the goods is an inevitable stage in
the multiplicity of stages leading to the acquisition of
Acquisition of technology will be encouraged by:
- Exposure of staff e.g. artisans, technicians, engi-
neers, fabricators
- Increase level of funding
- Provision of in cent i ves by go ver nment
- People’s genuine interest in science, engineering
and technology as opposed to buying and selling
- International cooperation
There is need to build up capability to produce effi-
cient unit operations of the required sizes by indigenous
14. Science and Technology Policy
The policy paid some attention to minerals with the ob-
jective of producing and guaranteeing a steady supply of
raw materials from nation’s resources, for the productive
sector of the economy. It recommends exploration and
exploitation of resources. It proposes encouragement of
development of programmes that promote use of local
raw materials, programme for promotion and adoption of
processes for converting local resources to su itable forms
as substitutes for industrial raw materials and pro-
grammes for developing new and alternate materials to
provide materials for developing new technologies. The
impact of the policy has not been felt in the mineral sec-
To promote the policy, the following are recom-
a. A well equipped testing and processing laboratory
with all known sophisticated testing facilities for physic-
cal and chemical properties of mineral processing tech-
nology and equipment design.
b. Research on miniature smelters of 1/2 ton capacity,
so that minerals that do not occur in abundance could be
smelted to meet local consumption.
opyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
A Review of Nigerian Metallic Minerals for Technological Development
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. NR
c. Industries should be encouraged to carry out re-
search and development, also to sponsor research.
d. High wages to encour age indigenous engineers will
increase innovations and invention.
e. Research activities should be done according to
demands by the economy rather than for academic pur-
15. Conclusions
Nigeria is well endowed with metallic minerals which
include iron ore, cassiterite, columbite, lead/zinc ores,
and ferro-alloy deposits found in traces in different loca-
tions in the country. However the minerals are not fully
harnessed for industrial development in Nigeria, also the
mineral development is so slow because of inadequate
funding and also lack of awareness on the importance of
the minerals in industrial development. If this trend con-
tinues then there is little hope of fully harnessing the
mineral resources fully for industrial and technological
development. This paper has reviewed the occurrences of
Nigerian metallic minerals in order to motivate govern-
ment (policy makers) and investors to put more interest
towards developing such important resources.
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