The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development says an artisanal and small scale mineral processing cluster will be established in Cross River State.
The cluster will according to the ministry serve the South-South zone of the country and is designed to activate the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogar, disclosed this in Calabar on Monday while receiving title documents for a five-hectare land donated by the Cross River State government for the project.
He said the project was to harness the barite deposit which is abundant in the state.
Ogar said, “The development of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mineral Processing cluster project is an initiative of the Federal Government in swift response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The overarching goal of the project is to spur and ensure sustainable growth of socioeconomic activities across the sub-economic sectors of the nation.
“The Federal Government choice of Cross River State for the siting of the cluster project for barite value chain development is predicated on the fact that the state is endowed with large commercial deposits of the mineral.
“Barite deposit occurrences in Cross River State are mainly around Obubra through to Yala Local Government Area which informed the siting of the cluster project in Yala.”
The project, which he said would be completed in six months, will increase efficiency in solid mineral production and revenue generation and enhance safer mining activities.
It will also boost the ease of doing mining business, fast-track development of downstream mineral value chain and create more jobs.
According to him, under the project, the Federal Government intends to embark on infrastructural development within the cluster area such as a barite processing plant, mining equipment leasing bay, training centre, warehouse, office complex amongst other amenities.
The state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, commended the Federal Government for bringing the project to the state.
The governor represented by his deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu, said his administration would support the project.