Since the discovery of nickel, a solid mineral, in Dangoma, a community in Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State, the people’s expectations have been high as they envisage development and other attendant benefits of development.
In 2016, an Australian firm published its findings at Dangoma village in the southern part of Kaduna State, indicating that a high grade mineral stones, especially nickel, abound in the area and since then the small town has attracted much attention.
Shortly after the publication, the Federal Government, through the then Minister for Solid Minerals, Kayode Fayemi, confirmed the availability of the stones in the area and promised to do something to harness them.
Officials of various tiers of government have after that, been compelled to visit the area to make their assessment, while many foreign investors have trooped in to investigate the claim, as well as device means of harnessing the stones.
However, two years after, the discovery has not made much difference in the life of the people. Some of the villagers who confirmed that not much had been done in the bid to harness the resource since its presence was announced to the world, say they are looking forward to when excavation and extraction will commence fully.
Their expectation is that once this is done, many of their infrastructural problems will be over as development will flood the town.
Nickel-containing products play an important role in our daily lives. Compared with other materials, nickel-containing products possess better corrosion resistance, greater toughness, more strength at high and low temperatures, and a range of special magnetic and electronic properties. Therefore, most nickel production is used for alloying elements, coatings, batteries, and some other uses, such as kitchen wares, mobile phones, medical equipment, transport, buildings, power generation and jewellery.
The nickel found in Dangoma is said to be one of the best in the world. One of the uniqueness of the discovery of the Dangoma type is that a ball (nickel) is up to 94 per cent metal and minor silica with few sulphides and is reputed to be of very high grade, which is up to five millimetres in diametre and it has an occurrence covering about 19.8 km2.
Fayemi, in a paper presentation in 2016 titled: “The Non-Oil Sector as a Sustainable Alternative in Enhancing Revenue Generation” at the National Council on Finance and Economic Development (NACOFED), Abeokuta, said nickel had the potential to contribute to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said, “It is anticipated that the exploitation of these abundant minerals can contribute up to $25bn to the GDP by 2026.”
Our correspondents found out that the expectations of the people in the villages was based on a certain agreement it had with a firm, Comet Mining Ltd, trying to exploit the mineral.
Dangoma Youth Leader, Ishaku Zamani, said apart from the benefits to be derived from harnessing the resource, the agreement with the community was that compensation would be paid for surface disturbance at rates established by government, while excavated and explored lands would be rehabilitated and restored to environmentally safe state after the mining.
Zamani said other terms of the agreement included assistance to the host communities with construction of three class rooms in each community at the cost of N3m each.
He said 50 per cent of the sum would be devoted to the construction of class rooms in the first year and the balance spread over the five years tenure of the agreement to assist 10 final year students of secondary schools from each community with the payment of their final examination fees (WAEC and NECO).
The other terms include provision of potable water through five bore holes with hand pumps in each of the three host communities, cooperate with host communities in respect of peace and security, and “to give priority to the youths of the community with regard to employment based on locally available skills and in accordance with the extant Labour Act of Nigeria.”
Zamani, who claims he is the first person nickel was found on his farm, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the exploration activities were going on in phases.
He said the exploration had spread from farm in Dangoma to Bakin Kogi and Nindem communities in Nkyob and Godogodo chiefdoms respectively, adding that the exploration which included, clearing and removal of vegetation, expansion of access roads, installation of structures and mobilisation, excavation, extraction were going on gradually, and that the project’s implementation as scheduled in the Draft Report was going to be bit by bit from preliminary feasibility studies, as started in 2014, to decomposition and rehabilitation, which would reach up to 2040.
Zamani said since the expansion of the areas where nickel was found, the benefitting communities that comprised different tribes and religions had united.
“We have a committee of five representatives from each community and we are having series of meetings every two weeks calling the attention of our people on the benefit of living in peace so that we can progress and benefit from the mineral,” he said.
“I pray that this administration that discovered the mineral to succeed in next year’s elections in order to continue the economic diversification they have started and to fulfill their covenant to us,” he said.
He also said, apart from nickel, the mining company also discovered other minerals: feldspar, wolfromite, graphite, tantalite, gemstones, tin, chromite nickel and columbite.
A former District Head of Dangoma, who is also the Wambai of Kaninkon (Nkyob) Chiefdom, Jema’a Local Government Area, Kaduna State, Alhaji Mahmuda Sulaiman, said Comet Mining Limited, the first mining company that discovered the nickel, was still in the site digging for more samples.
“I have here with me some samples of the sand that was removed from the spot. They have three years exploration license (Comet Mining) from the Federal Government that would end by November, 2018,” adding that the work would commence based on the final result.
He said Dangoma had only one six-classroom building, a nomadic primary school with overcrowded pupils, and two other schools that were set up by the community, and the UBE Primary School, Dangoma.
The former district head called on the state government to fulfill its promise of building two primary schools in the community since the community had provided the land.
“We also want government to build a junior secondary school for our children to save them trekking for five kilometres to the secondary school in Bakin Kogi,” he said.
“Finally, but not the least, we need government to come to our aid by constructing the nine-kilometre Dangoma-Godogodo road which is very important for our farmers and traders,” he stated.
Effort to get the side of government was not successful as the state Commissioner for Environment did not pick calls.