From Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
The Federal Government has launched two aircraft for airborne geophysical survey activities in 19 states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development Olamilekan Adegbite, speaking at the official launch of the two survey aircraft at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Thursday, said it will be increased to four soon for improvement and more coverage.
Adegbite explained that the aircraft are specially made for monitoring and collection of mineral data in the country, adding that they are part of the World Bank’s mineral sector support for economic diversification project in the ministry.
‘This part of a programme to acquire data on the minerals in Nigeria. This is a very basic method of acquiring data through geophysical measurements. The aircraft are special as they have equipment in them that monitor certain parameters on the ground,’ he said.
‘They work when the ground is dry. The recordings are in this equipment are transloaded unto computers that would interpret them. This will give us data that can be utilised.
‘It is a part of the World Bank’s mineral sector support for economic diversification project in the ministry. There was an open competition and this company from South Africa, Xcalibur multi-physics won it, and they are here now with the aircraft.
‘We had to go through a lot of security processes. The National Security Adviser (NSA) has given his go-ahead. The Nigerian Air Force is also aware they are here.
‘The aircraft will fly at a low altitude of about 50 metres, which is about 15 storey building. From the ground, the aircraft can be seen and heard. To allay people’s fears, for the last three months, we have been going around the states, sensitising people, and so that when these yellow aircraft are flying at low altitude, people would not panic.
‘Basically, the aircraft are there to gather data. These data will enhance our ability to know what minerals we have, and thereby attract investors. It would enhance what we know already and give us clearer data.’
Technical Adviser, Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification Project (MinDiver), John Eyre, further explained: ‘We are looking for signatures of all minerals, particularly metallic minerals like gold, lead, zinc, silver, all have different signatures, for instance, metallic minerals have a higher signal than non-metallic minerals.
‘What we are looking for is not necessarily the minerals themselves but the geological setting, where they may be found.’