By Inyali Peter, Calabar
The effort of Cross River Gov. Ben Ayade in turning around the economy of the state is beginning to bear fruits.
A profile of new solid mineral deposits across the state has been discovered.
Among the newly found solid minerals in the state are Uranium, iron ore, manganese, tourmaline, barites, marbles, galina and spherite.
Others are coal, kaolin, sulphite, rutile as well as new limestone deposits.
State Commissioner for Solid Minerals Hon. George Oben’echi disclosed this at Kokunne forest in Mkpani, Yarkurr Local Government Area of the state, where a huge deposit of limestone has just been discovered.
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 as part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) earlier signed with the government of Shian Xi Province.
According to Oben’enchie, the mineral resources which are in commercial quantities across the three senatorial districts of the state, when tapped, will tremendously transform the economy of the state and reduce its over dependence on federal allocations.
His words: “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 nook and cranny 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, Oben’echi intimated 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.”
Revealing one of the team’s findings in Yala Local Government Area, the Commissioner disclosed that “in Okpoma, we have about 60million metric tonnes of salt. As a matter of fact, the locals are mining the salt, even though in a crude way. If we are able to carry out a further test, bring in investors in that area, imagine what we will be in this state.”
On the mining prospect, Obenechie disclosed: “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, Oben’echi 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.
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“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,” Oben’echi 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.”
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.”