Zamfara State government is looking inwards for considering ways of diversifying its economic potentials in an effort to foster a sustainable and self-reliant economy.
The decision was motivated by the discovery of variety of huge deposits of mineral resources like gold, zink, quartz, tantalite, precious gem stones and huge deposits of clay for processing ceramics, which the government has now resolved to exploit as part of efforts to divorce from over dependence on? petroleum revenue.
This was coming on the heels of agitations by other agrarian northern states to explore alternative avenues for revenue generation, particularly in agriculture, to create favourable climate for a final departure from the current over-reliance on federal statutory allocations.
Sources from the state ministry of environment said government is investing large sum of money for geological studies to identify the actual quantity and quality of the total sum of mineral deposits across the state, after which actual mining and processing activities would commence.
The commissioner of environment, Alhaji Muktar Lugga, told the LEADERSHIP that attempts by previous governments to harness the solid minerals were grossly faulty in the sense that ‘you must first determine the quantity and quality of your mineral deposits if you really want investors to agree to put their money in the venture’, explaining that no investor would risk venturing into uncertainties.
He said the previous administration committed a big mistake in investing a huge sum of over N4.5 billion in the construction of gold processing company in the outskirts of the state capital, while neglecting the initial exploration process to determine the actual quantity and quality of the gold deposits in the state, explaining that this has only resulted in waste of public resources, which the government should have avoided.
Lugga said the company, which was constructed by the previous administration more than four years ago, had to be close down due to lack of the necessary raw materials to sustain the processing activities, saying that “one cannot sell? what he was not sure he has in his possession”.
The commissioner explained that the current administration is now starting the whole process from the scratch to get the first stage right, by embarking on the project of determining process to make sure that “we get a clear picture of the quantity and quality of available gold deposits in the state”, explaining that this project would take a period of four months after, which investors would be invited to put investment into the gold processing and exportations ventures.
He disclosed that the exploration process would engage the services of all stakeholders, including professional geologists to ensure that by the end of the four month-ultimatum, “we will be able to tell the world how much mineral deposits we have in the state.”
He said the government would start selling them in commercial quantities to international markets. Apart from the solid minerals intend for exploration, there is also a large deposit of clay suitable for ceramics in which the government is investing heavily to exploit its economic advantages.
As the commissioner said, there is a plan to establish not only ceramics processing firms, but to also categorize the state into village communes, so that each unit of community would be encouraged to utilize and specialize in exploiting and possible processing of its local mineral deposits to create self reliant employment as well as generation of wealth for the state.
There is also a vast deposit of marble stones discovered in many locations across the state, which the commissioner said, is proven to be of high quality and quantity suitable for the production of tiles in commercial quantity, explaining that a careful study is being made to consider seizing the economic advantage of the marble deposits to encourage production of marble products in the state.
“Some precious gem stones were taken to South Africa for sampling; and they were processed into various modes of jewelleries and retuned? back for exhibitions”, he said assuring that by the end of this year, the people of the state in particular, and the outside world would begin to identify Zamfara State among the productive and self-reliant communities.
He reaffirmed that the nagging questions “why Zamfara citizens are placed among the poorest communities, as the state in extremely rich in terms of resources” will soon be over.