There are various solid minerals such iron, magnetite, tin, columbite, lead, zinc, tantalitein Plateau State, Tin mining has been one of the reasons behind the rapid urban growth and expansion of Jos City. According to History tin mining started in Jos in1902 and by 1903, it was already discovered in Bukuru and later spread to Ropp and Barkin Ladi. The Britain formally entered into tin ore exploration and mining in Plateau State during the industrial revolution in Europe, which made tin ore the number one foreign export from Nigeria, hence, large companies were also involved in the tin mining business and some individual had the opportunity to obtain licence to mine on small scale. In 1760 to 1770, there were 13 indigenous blacksmith smelters in Naraguta village in Jos North local council. Moreover, during that period, Berom ethnic group were discovering and producing tin along River Dilimi near Jos. Countries like Spain and others imported tin for making gun barrels. During the World War1, there was a high demand for tin, since it was mostly used for ammunition and at the same time serves as source of revenue for the country.
However, when the discoveries of oil in the mid-1950s and the subsequent years came into existence, there was a shift from tin mining activity to oil production, thus leaving the present Plateau State with huge challenges posed by degradation and devastation. Over 4,000 abandoned mining sites were all over the state; these tin mining ponds have been abandoned and neglected, since there is no more tin explorations going in the State, as a result, the abandoned sites have continually posed serious threats to the physical environment and the inhabitants leaving within.
How is Tin mined?
Tin can be mined by using any of these four methods- underground method, placer method, in-situ mining and open cast or open pit method of mining. The open cast mining is a surface technique of extractingsolid mineral from the earth by removing the minerals from an open pit. This was the most common method used here in Jos Plateau. A powerful machine called a dragline was used to remove the overburden. In this method of mining operation, the bucket is positioned above the tin ore. The bucket is then lowered and thedragropeis then drawn so that the bucket is dragged along the surface of the material. The bucket is then lifted by using thehoist rope. A swing operation is then performed to move the bucket to the place where the tin ore is to be dumped. The dragrope is then released causing the bucket to tilt and empty. This is called a dump operation. This method involves throwing the overburden sideways onto blasted material to make a bench. After this operation, the tin ore is hen scoop out which is arranged in heap called tin wash.
Importance of Tin mining
- Tin ore is an important mineral with many uses; tin is used to produce tinplate, or steel coated with tin, which is used for food packaging. Tin and tin alloys are used also for solder, especially in the electronics industry. It is commonly used as an alloy for bearing metal and as an alloy in metallic coatings.
- The Inorganic compounds of tin are used in ceramics and glazes. Organic compounds of tin are used in plastics, wood preservatives, pesticides and in fire retardants
- The tin mining ponds can be used for irrigation farming during the dry seasons
- The ponds can be used for fishing (fish ponds)
- The Barkin Ladi mining pond for instance, can be converted to resort, as in the case of Rayfield resort for various recreational activities.
- Tin mining before now used to serve as a source of revenue to Nigeria when oil was not yet discovered, since the Europeans paid tribute to the Nigeria.
- Tin mining activities have opened up areas and have brought in new establishments like settlements, tarred roads and industrial activities.
- It has also created employment opportunity in the state, thereby reducing the level of unemployment.
Effect of tin mining on the Jos Plateau and its environs
- About 5% of the lands in Jos Plateau are covered by mining holes, these lands have been devastated and the top soils have been washed away due to tin mining activities in Jos plateau.
- Mining scar disturbs the water table in many cases by altering upstream causes, thereby leading to gully erosion by lowering the base level.
- The mining holes are dead traps, killing both humans and animals that go into the water unknowingly.
- Toxic chemicals buried deep in the earth are often released during the process of mining, some of these chemicals are quite dangerous to human health, and the radioactive elements can even cause cancer.
- Mining activities have exposed various lands to degradation and erosional processes, which have continued to accelerate and penetrate deeper than in normal conditions.
- Agricultural lands that were discovered to have tin deposits or land that were situated close to tin deposits were collected from the real owners without reasonable compensation to service the interest of the mining activities. In many cases, the landowners were left unattended to; they had no idea of the amount of wealth that was being plundered from their land.