Cross River State is rich in solid minerals, which is presently largely unexploited. Of note are limestones, barytes, clay, salt, tin, granite basalt, quartzite, kaolin, feldspar to mention a few.
In spite of the rich mineral endowments, mining activities at a commercial level have been restricted only to limestone. The solid mineral sector has the potential of contributing to the economic development of Cross River State and creating jobs for millions of its youths.
Sustainable mining and utilization of Mineral Resources in our state are central to growing our economy. Charting a path to this sustainable development in the mineral sector must involve calculated steps to attracting investment as a catalyst to industrialization of the state.
Private Investment in this sector is perceived as the key because the state has vast amounts of mineral resources that can service these industries for decades.
Cross River State must thus evolve strategies through which it can maximize its returns on investment in the mineral sector. This can be achieved by not just highlighting the available solid minerals in the state but also establishing the quality, quantity and specific location of each solid mineral present in the state.
In addition to this, the state government must take specific steps to acquire rights to these minerals deposits and partner with private firms for the exploration and exploitation of these mineral resources.
In this way the Cross River State Government will not only benefit from taxes derivable from these investments but also get direct Return on Investment as an investor.
Also, in line with the Federal Government’s policy of “One local government, one mineral commodity”, Cross River State must key into this vision by promoting the policy at the state level. Every local government in the state must identify at least one mineral resource available in commercial quantity and promote the development and investment in the exploration and exploitation of such.
It cannot be overemphasized that at a time like this when the state is experiencing economic challenges, diversifying the economic base is the best policy direction Sen. Ayade Benedict can take.
The recent creation of the Department of Mineral Resources in the State is a step in the right direction even as the state needs to take further steps in order to achieve set objectives.
The solid mineral sector presently contributes less than 1% to the Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria and the country imports most of its mineral resource needs.
Promoting investment in mineral resources development is the solution to our economic challenge and if we get this right, it has the potential of not only changing our economic fortunes but creating jobs for millions of youths.
Emmanuel Etim is a development consultant based in Nigeria.
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