By Our Correspondent
The Cross River State Government has announced the discovery of large deposits of Uranium, Iron Ore and other solid minerals in several parts of the state with exploration said to commence soon.
The commissioner for solid minerals development, George O’Ben-Etchi disclosed this recently while fielding questions from Journalists at Kokunne forest in Mkpani, Yakurr local government area where he said exploration will soon commence with the major ones capable of turning around, the fortunes of the state.
“What is popular in Cross River State is that people just know that we have about 33 solid minerals without having the idea of their value. Going from every nooks and crannies of the state, we discovered that we have a huge deposit of magnetic Iron Ore.
“The one we have in Mfamosing is different from the one we discovered in Boki and Ikom and that is what the steel company needs. It was exciting discovering this resource base.”
Continuing, O’Ben-Etchi said that: “there were communities we got to and they never knew what they were sitting on as regards mineral resources until the search team arrived there and found out that they had resources that could change their lives.
“Having known these, we want to also know the commercial quantities and value of each of these resources. I can assure you that there is a team waiting in China to come in and invest in these sectors.”
He listed some of the solid minerals discovered to include manganese, tourmaline, barites, marbles, galina, spherite, coal, kaolin, sulphite, rutile as well as new limestone and said the government will create a business friendly environment to ensure maximum utilization of the mining prospects.
“Government will create an enabling environment to ensure that everything we need is acquired even as we will always go through those processes to enable us mine these resources,” adding that “for investors, we want to assure that bureaucracy will be put in check and we will target all that will make us move forward.”
On the partnership between the state and federal government on the search, O’ben-etchi affirmed it was cordial as the Federal Meteorological survey and Solid Minerals Agencies were aware of the search and were following up in accordance with the law, so as to turn around the economy of the state.
“With the quality of solid minerals found in Boki and Ikom, if the governor does not even do anything but brings in needed investors in that sector, I assure you that the world will hear about Cross River State, its economy transformed, the GDP increased and in the next four years, the state will be next to Lagos,” O’ben-etchi maintained.
A mining engineer and an interpreter for the Chinese team, Mr. Zhao Zhiwei, applauded the government and people of Cross River State and Nigeria in general for its peaceful nature and reception to investors.
Speaking on the quality of the various so far discovered, Zhiwei said: “Although we await the result from the laboratory, but as I can see, these mineral resources are very good and are of premium quality.
“Our governor in Shain Xi Province and Directors will be happy to see these,” said Mr. Zhiwei.
Expressing joy at the discovery, Obol Lopon and Clan Head of Aduma, Obol Oden Dan Ubi, said: “I am happy because with this, my people will be happy, it will change their fortunes and offer jobs to the youth. If government can come in tomorrow and start the exploration, we will be happy. My people are peaceful and will always work with government for a better tomorrow.”
The state government is currently carrying out a geological mapping of the state, in partnership with some Chinese geologists from Shian Xi Province of China, an outcome of a memorandum of understanding earlier signed with the government of Shian Xi Province.
The state had earlier announced its securing of mining and exploration leases and licenses to exploit its solid minerals and is set to benefit from the Federal Government’s 13% derivation policy on solid minerals.
The Governor, Senator Ben Ayade had visited the Shaanxi province in China and signed an agreement on solid minerals with the government.
Mr. O’ben-Etchi is said to have used personal funds in procuring the leases, licenses and permits which led an elated Governor Ayade to gift him a new Toyota Prado SUV.
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