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Mining: Report Identifies Lithium, Zinc, Others in 133 Prospect Areas along Benue Trough

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The federal government on Thursday stated that the preliminary report of the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP), which is in its third and fourth phases has identified silver, zinc and lead in 133 prospect areas along Benue trough of the country.

This is even as two other contracted exploration companies had in October presented the first and second preliminary reports to the ministry.

The Director General, Nigeria Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), Dr. Abdulrazaq Garba, while presenting the report to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite, in Abuja, revealed that Nigeria has succeeded in elucidating its mineral types.

According to him, “The information in the report has never been there these while.

We have two presentations: Rare metal pegmatites, Lead-zinc- silver mineralization in the Benue trough.

“We have identified lead, zinc, silver and lithium in 133 prospect areas. Exploration is about looking for and it is not a means to an end. So what we are saying is that from the results we are getting, if we are able to identify areas that are open at the mining cadastral, government can carve out these areas and put it up for good investors to come and invest.

“Where they are not open and you have a lot of licences in those areas, then government should encourage the owners of these licences to partner with investors in the right type of mineral.”

Responding, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Adegbite, stated that presentation is a result of expenditure made by the ministry and federal government to de-risk the mining sector.

He said that mining was all about data, adding that: “You are never sure of what is beneath the ground and at what quantity. That is the risk. Of course, it is a high risk because you need to find out this fact which is data generated.

“Investors always shy away from this risk. They do not want to risk their money and find out that there is nothing there.

“So often times, government have to undertake this. This is where we have to say thank you to President Muhammadu Buhari. He is the first president ever to have granted this type of funding.”

Adegbite further opined that about $50 million has been spent on the project, adding: “This is about $15 billion. Five projects have been defined under the NIMEP.

“This was a well thought-out project and the results are fantastic. The data are coming in and it tells us that we are very rich in mineralisation and the next phase is for us to market this so that it can bring in investors, yield revenue and create jobs for our people.

“So we have received two reports earlier in October and two today. Just one outstanding and then the project will be closed. We can now take the report in less technical format to the council that the money granted in 2017 has been judiciously expended and this is the result and we will ask for more finance.”

The minister further said: “Because we have only covered a very small fraction of the country with this kind of fund. Exploration is a very expensive project. The money given has been well spent but only covered a fraction. We can discover more and that will enhance the sector and attract more investors.”

Similarly, one of the contractors and Managing Director, Juggernauts Industries Limited, Mr. Bello Mohammed, told journalists at the sidelines of the presentation that the report showed Nigeria has lithium in high grade.

He stressed that it puts the country in a mining destination map as the surge for electric cars increases.

“We know that there is high demand for electric vehicles in the world. This project will put Nigeria on the map, showing that Nigeria has higher lithium potentials,” Mohammed said.

Culled from THISDAY

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