Wednesday, April 2, 2014


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For the benefit of those who need to know, an attempt would be made to define mineral and metal ore. Mineral is an inorganic substance found in nature with a characteristics chemical composition and in some cases, of definite crystal structure. The earth crust contains rocks of different composition with different physical properties. Some hard, some soft.

Rocks are the materials which the earth's upper crusts are made of. Rocks are themselves composed of minerals. Minerals are naturally occurring elements like Gold, or a compound such as Iron Oxide. If a rock contains a mineral from which a metal can be extracted at a profit, it is call an Ore. For example, Copper Ore.

The Non-ferrous industrial metals contain a group of minerals which include copper, lead, zinc, tin and aluminium bearing minerals. All are found in Nigeria at varying concentrations and different forms.

Copper (Cu): There are between 150 and 180 copper minerals. Of these, the commonest and the most important form mined are native copper(Cu); oxides of copper: cuprite (Cu2O); tenorite (CuO); and a variety of copper sulphides such as bornite (Cu5FeS4); chalcocite (Cu2S);tetrahedrite [(CuFe)12Sb4S13] and chalcopyrite (Cu2Fe2S4).

A lot of economic minerals occur in the Benue Trough. Most of the minerals found here occur as lobes and infill in the open fractures in the sedimentary formation. The strike of these mineralised fractures is dominantly north-south though northwest-southeast subsurface structures also exist in the area.

Some of the minerals in the area are limestone, iron ore, base metals (copper, lead and zinc), coal, lignite oil and natural gas, clay, shale, barites, fluorspar, quartz, cadmium, silver and gold.

The occurrence and distribution of Copper ore in Nigeria mainly around the Benue Trough. Economic Pb-Zn mineralisation is restricted to the Southern parts of the Trough. Associated with the Pb-Zn ore are chalcopyrite, siderite, azurite, malachite and marcasite. Upwards to the middle and upper regions of the trough are important deposits of salt, barite, Limestone, and fluorite as well as argentiferous galena and gypsum. All these deposits owe their genesis to aulacogen development which in turn is a tectonic feature.

Copper is an element, reddish brown in color, having atomic number 29 and pertaining to the scientific symbol ‘Cu’. Coming from the same family of silver and gold, this element shares numerous common characteristics with those precious metals.

This element is a highly ductile and malleable element and a very good conductor of electricity. That is why it is highly used in the electrical appliances as a thermal and electrical conductor and in building wires.

It occurs in various minerals on earth and is also forms part of a lot of alloys. Copper also has characteristics that it is a creep and corrosion free metal and all of its so very useful features make it an element on which the world’s economy directly depends.

Copper is a very important element and the oldest known commodity in the world that directly affects the world’s economy. It stands at the third place in context of the world consumption after steel and aluminum. It is largely used in electrical appliances, as it is the cheapest metal, which is a good conductor of electricity. It is also considered safe as a raw material in wire making. Alloys of copper like bronze, brass, monel and speculum metal are also very popular and are extensively used throughout the world.

Copper is an element that has a universal availability and is found worldwide especially in the volcanic areas possessing high levels of sulfur concentrations. In fact about 90% of the world’s copper deposits are located in the great basin of the western United States, Zambia, central Canada, the Andes region of Peru and Chile and some regions of Antarctica too! The production of refined copper hovers around 15 million tons annually.

The leading copper producing nations are United States and Chile, both having 18% shares in the total world’s production. The leading country in which copper is refined is United States of America. The consumption of copper stands at the third position among the most consumed metals in the world after steel and aluminum.

Copper is an important commodity that is traded mainly in

• London Metals Exchange (London)

• New York Mercantile Exchange (New York)

• Shanghai Futures Exchange (China)

These commodity exchanges direct the world market in the context of prices.

The market for copper ore is both local and international with china as the largest importer of metal ore in the world. Because of the various applications of lead ore, the demand would always surpass the supply.

The percentage given below denotes the % consumption of the total world’s consumption. The consumption trend is on a rise with the increasing contribution of the countries in Asia like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

There are various factors that influence the demand and supply of copper in the world such as the technological, social and technological factors. This is the demand for copper that governs the findings of new mines and the expansion of old mines.

Only 17% of the total copper produced in the world is available for trading. The major copper exporting nations include

• Chile

• Indonesia

• Canada

• Australia

The largest copper importing countries of the world includes

• Spain

• China

• Germany

• Philippines

Obtaining Mining Lease in Nigeria

There are two options available to a company or an individual to enter into the mining industry in Nigeria.

Through the acquisition of an existing mining property from the original owner. Approval must be obtained from the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development for such a purchase.

By obtaining on application, either a Prospecting Right (PR), an Exclusive Prospecting Licence (EPL), or a Special Exclusive Prospecting Licence (SEPL), the application should state financial and technical capability qualifying the applicant for entry into the mining sector.

Incentives / Government Policy on Mining in Nigeria

In order to encourage investment in the solid minerals industry in Nigeria, Government is the offering the following incentives

1. 3-5 years Tax Holiday

2. Deferred royalty payments

3. Possible capitalisation of expenditure on exploration and surveys

4. Extension of infrastructure such as roads and electricity to mining sites, and provision of 100% foreign ownership of mining concerns.

The mining industry in Nigeria is regulated by the The Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007,National Minerals and Metals Policy 2008 and Nigerian Minerals and Mining Regulations 2011.

The percentage of royalty charged in the mining industry in Nigeria range between 3%- 5%.

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