Investing In Production Of Precipitated Calcium Carbonate In Cross River BY EMMANUEL ETIM

In Breaking News, Business & Economy, Columnists, National News, Opinion
Emmanuel Etim (insert)
Emmanuel Etim (insert)

Experts posit that the solid minerals sector has the greatest potentials for investors as Nigeria seeks to diversify from the mono-sector to a multi-sector economy.

The sector presents bigger opportunities and greater return on investment as it is still largely unexplored and unexploited. Cross River State is blessed with various solid minerals in abundant quantities which if exploited will bring economic prosperity to the state and its people.

One of the solid minerals available in abundant quantity in the state is limestone. Suitable limestone deposits for industrial purposes in Cross River State occur in Mfamosing, Odukpani, Obubra, Ugep, Ikot Ana, Ago Ibami.

The limestone at Mfamosing, near Calabar, is the largest and the purest deposit in Nigeria. It is about 50 metres thick at the quarry site.

West of Calabar, another carbonate body occurs in the subsurface that is 450 metres thick. The Calabar Flank is the main carbonate province in Nigeria with well-developed tropical karsts and caves.

Limestone in the state is presently being exploited for the production of cement. The largest investor in cement production in Cross River State is the United Cement Company of Nigeria.

There are two other investors who are at advanced stages of preparation to begin production of cement in the state. This will make Cross River State the largest producer of cement in Nigeria.

However, there is an equally important product whose basic raw material is also limestone with great many uses and importance to the economy.

The product is Precipitated Calcium Carbonate. The purpose of this treatise is to expose to the Cross River State Government the opportunity to invest, through a public private partnership model, in the production of Precipitated Calcium Carbonate to meet the growing demand for the product in Nigeria.

The governor of Cross River State Senator Professor Benedict Ayade has expressed the intention of his administration as part of his signature projects to set up a Cross River State Mining and Quarrying Company which will promote the state’s dream of investing in the solid mineral sector to reap the immense potentials which abound, create jobs and bring economic prosperity to our people. This proposition will help in the realization of this vision.

First thing I will look at is; what is precipitated calcium carbonate and what are its uses in the economy?

Precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) is an innovative product derived from limestone, which has many industrial applications. Precipitated calcium carbonate is made by hydrating high-calcium quicklime and then reacting the resulting slurry, or “milk-of-lime”, with carbon dioxide.

The resulting product is extremely white and typically has a uniform narrow particle size distribution. PCC is available in numerous crystal morphologies and sizes, which can be tailored to optimize performance in specific applications.

Some of the products that rely on applications of precipitated calcium carbonate to a great extent include: food and pharmaceuticals, adhesive and sealants, paints and inks, paper, plastics and many others.

In addition to these industries, calcium carbonate also finds applications in the rubber industry where it is widely utilized as commercial filler.

Adhesives and Sealants:

Precipitated calcium carbonates are used as fillers in adhesives and sealants. However, because of their much smaller sizes they are mainly used as the primary rheological additive in high-performance products. Precipitated calcium carbonates add reinforcement and make the product stronger.

Food and Pharmaceuticals:

Precipitated calcium carbonates are used as dietary calcium, mostly in liquid products where the very small particle size is valuable. Many medicines and cosmetics contain precipitated calcium carbonate as the base material of pills, or for bulking of liquid medicines, ointments or creams. Precipitated calcium carbonates are used in toothpaste as a viscosity aid and mild abrasive.

Paints and Inks:

Precipitated calcium carbonate is commonly used in paint and inks as extenders to increase opacity and porosity for dry hiding. Formulating flexographic, gravure, lithographic or silk screen printing inks with precipitated calcium carbonate can improve quality whilst reducing costs.

Paper:

Precipitated calcium carbonate is used for similar applications to ground calcium carbonate but the particle size is much finer and more closely controlled, allowing precipitated calcium carbonate to be used more for paper coating and surface finishing. Precipitated calcium carbonates can be supplied coated with additives to improve gloss or aid bonding within the paper.

Plastics:

Precipitated calcium carbonate is used as a fine and very consistently controlled filler/extender, and also to help control flow and moulding characteristics of fine components. Precipitated calcium carbonate also has a significant effect on impact strength in rigid PVC.

The second thing I will look at is; what is the demand for the product in Nigeria?

It is worthy of note that the precipitate calcium carbonate market almost immediately reflects changes taking place in ancillary industries such as automotive, paper, construction, as well as plastic industries, which are in turn directly affected by any instability in the economy.

Because of the numerous uses of precipitated calcium carbonate, there is steady and increasing demand for the product. Sadly, the precipitated calcium carbonate requirement in Nigeria is met mainly through importation despite the abundance of raw material for its local production.

It has become clear to all concerned that Nigeria cannot continue to depend on importation for its precipitated calcium carbonate requirement especially considering the harm importation is doing to the nation’s economy. In recent times the Naira has fallen in value against other currencies and this has led to a depletion of the foreign exchange reserve and other micro and macro-economic challenges.

Nigeria has an estimated reserve of Limestone in excess of over one billion {1,000,000,000} metric tons scattered in different parts of the country.

In Cross River State alone there is more than 100 million metric tons of limestone reserve. There is no excuse thus whatsoever for Nigeria to be importing precipitated calcium carbonate.

It is time for Cross River State government to consider seriously the opportunity which this presents to draw Foreign Direct Investment or invest through a public private partnership model in the production of precipitated calcium carbonate to meet the growing demand for the product in Nigeria.

Emmanuel Etim is a development consultant based in Nigeria (emmanuel.etim22@gmail.com)

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