Zinc (Zn) Deposits In Nigeria: Its Mining And Applications Sept 13, 2022 10:17:12 GMT 1
Post by Trade Forum on Sept 13, 2022 10:17:12 GMT 1
“Many people do not know that Zinc is not only a metal used for preventing corrosion, but that Zinc is also an essential trace element commonly found in red meat, poultry, and fish. It is necessary in small amounts for human health, growth, and sense of taste” WebMD.
Nigeria is one of the countries in the world that have been blessed by nature with abundant minerals and natural resources. The country has for a very long time been ignorant of these resources but today the present government is paying attention to these resources.
In this article we are going to look at one those mineral resources known as Zinc, resident under the earth that can bring financial fortunes to the country if properly mined and processed.
It may interest you to know that Nigeria is one of the West African countries with Zinc deposits, and the states with zinc deposits are as follows: Anambra, Ebonyi, Plateau, Cross River, Zamfara, Abuja (FCT), Enugu, Imo, Kano, Niger, and Taraba.
Statistics show that Zinc is the 4th most widely used metal after iron, aluminum, and copper. It is a chemical element with the symbol Zn and atomic number 30; it has a melting point of 419.5 °C and a boiling point of 907 °C.
The metal Zinc is in group 12 of the periodic table and the first element in the group.
Zinc is characterized as a bluish-white, lustrous, diamagnetic metal, hard and brittle at most temperatures.
It is the 24th most abundant element in Earth's crust and is usually found in association with other base metals such as copper and lead in ores.
Zinc prefers to bond with sulphide because of its low affinity (liking) for oxides.
The most common form of zinc sulfide is Spahlerite, it contains roughly 60-63% content of zinc which is why it is the most heavily and commonly mined ore with zinc content throughout the world. Apart from sphalerite, there are also minor zinc sulfide-containing ores which include wurtzite, zinc silicate-containing ore known as hemimorphite, and zinc carbonate ores such as smithsonite and hydrozincite.
How to mine zinc ores:
The mining of zinc ores can be done using the following two methods: open-pit method (for oxidized ore bodies, which are located closer to the Earth’s surface) and the underground method (for the more deeply located sulfide ores).
When the zinc sulfide mineral is located using any of the above methods, it is separated from the impure constituents using the flotation separation method where the oil is crushed into fine particles after which water is added to form a slurry, a chemical reagent is added to create a suspension of air bubbles, the slurry is agitated thereby making the mineral particles to cling on the bubbles and forming an oily froth on the surface. The froth is scooped out as zinc sulphide.
Also electrolysis is the process commonly used in the extraction of Zinc from its various ores, but it has to undergo sintering and roasting first where the zinc sulphide (ZnS) in the presence of oxygen concentration to zinc oxide (ZnO) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) gas.
The sulphur dioxide (SO2) is then subjected to further oxidization to yield sulphur trioxide (SO3), at this stage, the sulphur trioxide is dissolved in a strong sulphuric acid which is then diluted with water and can be sold for its various purposes. ZnS + 1.5O2 → ZnO + SO2.
Zinc is one of the most popular natural occurring metals in Nigeria; and recently there have been numerous business investors, suppliers, dealers, mining and processing industries, and companies scattered in various parts of the country.
Currently a good number of private mining companies are into full-time mining of zinc and other natural metals and minerals in Nigeria and the African continent.
Various Applications of Zinc:
Zinc is most commonly used as an anti-corrosion agent. It’s also used in steel galvanization (coating of iron or steel). Most zinc in Nigeria is used to galvanize other metals such as, iron to prevent them from rusting. Galvanized steel is used for car bodies, street lamp posts that are usually exposed to harsh weather, safety barriers, and suspension bridges.
Zinc oxide is used in the production of batteries and paints, rubber and textiles, plastics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, soaps, inks, and electrical equipment.
About 75% of zinc is used as metal mainly for coating other metals from corrosion. It is also used as an alloying metal to produce copper and brass.
Zinc is also used in other alloys such as nickel silver and aluminum solder.
Zinc also is an essential trace element commonly found in red meat, poultry, and fish. It is necessary in small amounts for human health, growth, and sense of taste.
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