Adamawa is one of Nigeria’s northern states with great potential for mineral resource development. The state’s significant deposits of various minerals have not been fully explored or tapped on a commercial scale. With the right investments and policies, Adamawa’s untapped mineral wealth can drive economic growth and diversify the state’s economy. This article explores the top five most promising mineral resources in Adamawa State.
Kaolin, also known as china clay, is a soft white clay mineral used in making ceramics, bone china, porcelain, paper coating and filling, paints, plastics, rubber, fibreglass, and more. Adamawa has rich deposits of kaolin spread across many local government areas like Gui, Fufore, Gurin, and Numan. With estimated reserves of over 30 million tonnes, the state contains Nigeria’s largest known kaolin deposits. However, exploitation remains low, with only a few small mining companies operational.
With investment in modern mining and processing, Adamawa can become a major kaolin hub, serving both local industries and export markets. According to Policymax, Kaolin generates over $2 billion in global trade annually. With rising demand across Asia, Europe, and America, Adamawa is well-positioned geographically to ship to major kaolin buyers. The state government should create policies to attract investors for larger-scale commercial kaolin mining and production.
Adamawa has an abundance of gypsum deposits concentrated in the southern districts of Ganye, Toungo, Jada, and Namtari. Gypsum is a soft sulphate mineral used for plaster, chalk, drywall, soil amendment, cement, and more. Global gypsum demand is projected to reach $4 billion by 2026. However, Adamawa’s gypsum reserves remain largely untapped beyond artisanal mining.
With improved mining infrastructure, equipment, and operations, Adamawa can become a foremost gypsum producer, satisfying rising national demand and exports. Gypsum mining and product manufacturing also create many jobs for local communities. The Adamawa government should work to formalise artisanal miners into cooperatives and small enterprises. Larger investments by cement, construction, and fertiliser companies that utilise gypsum should also be encouraged through policy incentives.
Bentonite clay deposits have been confirmed across the northern parts of Adamawa State. Bentonite is used for drilling mud, foundry sand, iron ore pelletizing, absorbents, sealants, and cat litter. With over 70 million tonnes of bentonite reserves, Adamawa contains Nigeria’s second-largest bentonite deposits after Borno State. However, current mining remains small-scale and disorganised.
With an improved organisation of local artisanal miners into clusters, better mining technologies, and structured marketing channels, Adamawa can drive commercial bentonite production. Bentonite has crucial applications in petroleum drilling, steel foundries, construction, and agriculture. It is an exportable commodity that will diversify state revenues. The Adamawa government should facilitate linkages between mining clusters and major industrial buyers.
Limestone is a versatile mineral used in cements, steel manufacturing, water treatment, construction aggregates, and more. Adamawa State contains substantial high-grade limestone deposits, especially in northern LGAs like Mayo-Belwa, Toungo, Jada, and Ganye. However, there is only one notable limestone quarry currently operational in Mayo-Belwa.
With Adamawa’s central location and transport connections, expanded commercial limestone mining can serve both local cement factories and industrial buyers across Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Limestone mining and crushing also create many jobs. The state government should incentivize more investments in quarrying equipment and operations to drive the wide-scale development of Adamawa’s limestone resources.
Recent exploratory drilling has revealed promising gold deposits across parts of Adamawa State. Small-scale, informal gold panning already occurs along some river areas. However, there has not yet been any large commercial gold mining or production. With expanded prospecting and potential confirmation of mineable reserves, Adamawa could support modern industrial gold mining.
Gold mines will create jobs, generate tax revenues, and diversify Adamawa’s economy. Gold refining equipment should also be setup locally to capture more value. However, environmental regulations and enforcement will be crucial to ensuring responsible mining practices. The state government should work on formalising informal miners into legalised clusters and cooperatives. With the right investments and framework, Adamawa can become a leading gold producer.
Other notable mineral prospects
Beyond the top 5, Adamawa also shows promising potential for mining other minerals at commercial volumes:
- Iron Ore: Significant iron ore reserves found in local government areas like Mayo-Belwa and Toungo are yet untapped at an industrial scale.
- Uranium: Uranium used for nuclear power has been discovered across parts of Adamawa. But large-scale mining has not commenced.
- Coal: Proven coal reserves in Song, Fufore, and Ganye LGAs hold energy potential pending productivity assessments.
- Bitumen: Vast bitumen deposits suitable for asphalt exist but remain largely underexploited.
- Tin and Columbite: Tantalum, niobium, and associated minerals indicate wider possibilities.
- Salt: Adamawa has many yet-to-be-developed salt springs and deposits.
With supportive policies, investments, infrastructure, enforcement, community alignment, and marketing, Adamawa can optimise its mining sector to drive broad-based economic growth from its diverse mineral endowments. Sustainable mining clustered with downstream manufacturing will create jobs and exports while diversifying the state’s revenues.
Key Recommendations to Tap Mineral Resources
To fully develop its promising mining potential, some key steps Adamawa State should take include:
- Conduct comprehensive geological surveys to quantify deposits across the state.
- Create mineral development masterplans for both strategic and artisanal mining.
- Establish clear legal and regulatory frameworks for environmental protection, safety, community development, etc.
- Facilitate access to mining equipment, training, and working capital for cooperatives.
- Develop transportation infrastructure like roads and rail to mining areas
- Provide reliable power and water to support mining operations and processing.
- Incentivize investments by reputable mining companies through public-private partnerships.
- Promote downstream manufacturing, like cement plants and fertiliser factories.
- Formalise artisanal miners into legal clusters, unions, and companies.
- Create microfinance and extension support programmes tailored to miners’ needs.
- Foster win-win partnerships between communities and mining companies.
- Ensure mining generates taxes, royalties, and rents to boost state revenues.
- Set up environmental monitoring and enforcement units to police mining impacts.
- Conduct impact assessments and remediation projects in collaboration with communities.
- Train inspectors, revenue officers, and data managers to govern the sector.
With the right policies and investments, Adamawa State can potentially become a leading mining hub in Nigeria. Sustainable leveraging of its mineral wealth will foster economic diversification, exports, and community development.
Adamawa State is enormously endowed with under-tapped mineral resources like kaolin, gypsum, bentonite, limestone, and gold. Targeted development of its mining sector will boost employment, revenue generation, and growth for the state. However, this must be done sustainably and equitably in partnership with host communities to mitigate risks and maximise local benefits. With a coordinated strategy, investments, and proper governance, Adamawa can unleash its full mining potential for widespread economic prosperity.