Nickel is a shiny, silvery metal that can take a high polish and is malleable, hard and ductile. It is magnetically magnetic and has a low thermal and electrical conductivities. Its important characteristics for industrial use include; resistance to oxidation and alkali corrosion, strength at high temperatures, and the capacity to alloy with many other metals.
Nickel has an average abundance of 80 parts per million (ppm) in the earth’s crust, however, it is highly concentrated in the core. The transition group metal nickel, which has 14 known isotopes, including five stable ones, is the fifth most prevalent element on earth. It can replace iron in many minerals because it has the same oxidation state (+2) and comparable ionic size to iron and other similar transition group metals.
Nickel-bearing minerals can be found in laterites and as sulphides in significant proportions. Garnierite and nickeliferous limonite are the two principal nickel-bearing minerals found in laterites.The most significant nickel sulphide mineral is pentlandite, which is found in mafic and ultramafic igneous rocks along with pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite, and pyrite in economic deposits.
Occurrence of Nickel in Nigeria
Nickel, an important industrial metal used in several applications including the fabrication of stainless steel, batteries, and electronics, is reportedly present in substantial amounts in Nigeria. The northern states of Kaduna, Kebbi, Nasarawa, and Taraba, according to the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), are where the majority of Nigeria’s nickel reserves may be located. (Obaje 2009).
About 5 million metric tonnes of nickel deposits, with an average nickel concentration of 1-3%, have been identified in Nigeria (Obaje 2009). According to these projections, Nigeria has a lot of potential for creating a nickel industry that can supply both domestic and international markets. Due to a lack of infrastructure and investment in the sector, Nigeria still imports nickel for use in industry. The Nigerian government and private companies have made several attempts to grow the nickel sector.
To add value to the raw nickel ore, the Nigerian government announced plans to build a $5 billion nickel processing factory in Kaduna State (Reuters, 2016). The proposed factory would be capable of producing 600,000 tonnes of pure nickel annually, and it is anticipated to increase employment and regional economic growth.
Additionally, there are proposals to build smaller nickel processing facilities in other regions of Nigeria to boost domestic output and lessen reliance on nickel imports. The Nigerian government is attempting to diversify the economy and lessen its reliance on oil exports through these Programmemes.
To sum up, Nigeria has large nickel reserves that could spur the country’s economic expansion and development. To utilise the potential of the nickel deposits, greater investment and infrastructure development are required in the nation’s nickel industry, which is still relatively underdeveloped.
Obaje N. (2009). Geology and mineral resources of Nigeria. Springer.
Reuters. (2016). Nigeria to tap mineral wealth for economic development.
Mr. Aliyu Mohammed Lawan holds a Master’s degree in Applied Geophysics from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from the University of Maiduguri. He has also obtained a National Certificate of Education from FCE (T) Potiskum.