Abia ready to explore 17 solid minerals

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From Boniface Okoro, Umuahia

Abia State government says it is ready to begin exploration of solid minerals found in the state.

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“The state government is ready to explore the array of solid minerals that this state has been blessed with. A number of them, they have been left untapped. But this government is now very committed to ensuring that these solid minerals are tapped,” declared the Commissioner for Information and Culture, Prince Okey Kanu.

Kanu disclosed this while briefing journalists at Government House, Umuahia, on the decisions reached during this week’s State Executive Council meeting presided by the Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, on Monday, September 18, 2023.

Feasibility studies carried out years back indicate that Abia has 17 solid minerals, including gold, limestone, kaolin, and copper, amongst others. They have remained buried beneath the state as previous governments failed to exploit the minerals.

But the Otti government has announced its readiness to start off processes that would lead to eventual mining of the money-spinning nature’s gifts in order to attract investors, create job opportunities and boost revenue accruing to government.

“I don’t know how many of us are aware of the fact that we have gold in Abia State; we have kaolin, limestone, among others. At the last count, there are about 17 solid minerals that we can tap into,” Kanu said, explaining that “the idea behind this is to provide investment opportunities for those that are willing to invest, provide job opportunities for Abians and to boost the state’s revenue base. Solid minerals is an area the state government will play very strongly in the coming week or months.”

Providing further insight into Abia’s quest to tapping its solid minerals, the Commissioner for Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Prof. Joel Ogbonna, said having been availed with preliminary works in the sector, as well as the literature revealing the existence of the minerals, the government would now embark carrying out an appraisal to determine the whether the minerals were in commercial quantity.

Ogbonna said: “With some literature and mapping surveys, it is shown that Abia State has about 17 minerals. When you look at topography and geological materials of the areas, viz-a-viz what are found at those places, the first step, we need to go to appraise because it is not just enough to say these things are available. At what quantity, are they in commercial quantity? That’s another level before you go to development.

“So we have gotten this literature but we have not done enough work to be able to determine the quantity that would attract investors. So, we want to take a step further to go into real appraisal and development so that you can say succinctly, this is the quality of minerals we have in this area, this is the reserve, so that investors could be attracted.”

The Commissioners listed some of the local government areas with mineral deposits to include Ikwuano, Umunneochi, Umuahia South and Isuikwuato where you have kaolin; Isukwuato, adding that there is limestone in Ohafia, Arochukwu, Bande; copper in Ohafia, gold in Ohafia and Bende, phosphate in Bende, among others. 

“Again, these are literature and some preliminary work that have been done. What we want to do now is to go there and confirm that these things are in commercial quantity,” he stressed.

The state appeared to be motivated by federal government’s desire to sure up the country’s revenue base with proceeds from solid minerals as Prof. Ogbonna hinted.

“And if you have been following up the federal government, Minister of Solid Minerals and the Presidency, they want to make solid minerals a top player in terms of investment and have come up with seven top minerals: Limestone, Coal, Gold and such like. And when you look at the history we have in Abia State, some of these minerals are available. So, we want to go into real appraisal and development exploration and by the time we do that, we can now tell investors to come and invest.

“And of course, these are wealth buried in the ground and when this happens (exploitation), it will bring employment and increase our revenue base,” the Commissioner said.

He said that before going into any community, government would enter into agreement with such a community.

“Again being a proactive government, before we go into any community, to do anything, we must discuss with those communities and these projects are supposed to be win-win.  And again, we know that for anything to be done, we have to look at economic prosperity and social equity.

“Social equity has to do with having a discussion of win-win with the people around there. So, we are going to do due diligence, so that at the end of the day, both locales and the government would benefit,” he added.

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