Lead Ore Deposits - Nigeria is one of the Africa countries that are richly blessed with abundant natural resources and minerals and Lead is one of them; below are some of the states with Lead deposits; Akwa Ibom, Imo, Anambra, Bayelsa, Benue, Enugu, Niger, Ebonyi, FCT, Plateau, Cross River, Taraba, and Zamfara.
Lead is a metallic element primarily produced from the mineral galena, it has an atomic number of 82, melting point of 327.5 °C and a boiling point of 1,749 °C; it is a very soft, blue-grey in colour, has a high density, is ductile, malleable, resistance to corrosion, and has an electrical conductivity compared to other metals.
Most mineral ore contains lead with only about 3 of these minerals commercially viable, they are galena, cerussite, and anglesite and is mostly found in conjunction with other metals like zinc and silver. Lead mineral ores are mostly mined as a by-product of the above stated valuable metals.
It is extracted from ores dug from underground mines but for the extraction to be effective, lead ore has to be grounded into fine particles until it has a salt-like texture, after which it undergoes a flotation process, Flotation process means mixing the well-grinded lead ore with water.
In addition to the flotation process pine oil and air bubbles are introduced causing agitation and making oil froth on the surface, the oil froth contains the lead which is scooped off and filtered to remove the water.
At about 2500oF – 3500oF, the powder is sintered to oxidize impurities like sulphur, and is heated further in a blast furnace, this makes the carbon to produce molten Lead which flows into lead molds, to be 99% pure it is further subjected to melting and skimming.
Since is found in conjunction with other metals such as gold and silver, the precious metals can be removed by adding to it a small quantity of zinc.
The gold and silver dissolve more easily in zinc than in lead, and when the bullion is cooled slightly, zinc dross rises to the top, bringing the other metals with it.
The occurrence of lead in Nigeria added to the numerous abundant mineral resources in the country; though it has numerous applications which are quite useful in industries, it is generally also considered harmful when being exposed to.
There has been series of lead poisoning in Nigeria, West Africa through the intake of contaminated water especially in Zamfara state where series of death has occurred and this was attributed to underdeveloped domestic mining by the villagers which if not seriously taken into consideration by the government can even lead to the wiping away of an entire villages.
Applications of lead