Top 10 Natural Resources in Nigeria

Natural resources are resources that are made available by nature and are not man-made, they serve as useful raw materials for man’s daily production and consumption processes around the world.

Nigeria, popularly known as the “Giant of Africa” is among the countries in Africa found in the Western part of the continent. Richly endowed with a wide variety of different natural resources which have been exploited or yet to be harnessed.

The country has enormous natural resources ranging from industrial metals to various precious stones such as Barites, Gemstones, Gypsum, Kaolin, and Marble. Most of these minerals are yet to be exploited.

Studies have shown that the rate at which these resources have been exploited is not commensurate with the country’s natural resource deposit.

This is to say that the level of exploitation of these resources is very low in comparison to the number of resource deposits in the nation.

Over time the country has been focusing on the exploitation of a major natural resource which is crude oil and the mining of other natural resources like limestones which have affected the environmental health of the nation without paying attention to other valuable resources found in the nation as well.

Top 10 Natural Resources in Nigeria

The following are the top 10 natural resources

1. Clay

The existence of clay has been traced back centuries past, and it is likely the oldest natural resource on earth. It has also been termed the oldest building material on Earth.

Clay is a type of soil that is very common and contains clay minerals. It is not a new natural resource in Africa and Nigeria as a whole as it was used in ancient times in the building of huts and even in modern-day Nigeria some of the rural dwellers use it in their habitat construction and homewares.

Africa as a continent is endowed with clay-rich countries and in Nigeria clay is gotten in larger quantities from the majority of the states of the nation, the states include; Abuja (FCT), Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, and Sokoto.

Uses of Clay

  1. Clay is used in brick making such as floor and wall tiles, arts, objects, dish wares, etc.
  2. It is used in making musical instruments such as whistles, ocarina, flutes, etc.
  3. It is used in industries for paper making, cement production, chemical filtering, and pottery.
  4. Clay can be medicinal serving as a relief to stomach upset when ingested.
  5. Due to its impermeability to water, it can be used as a barrier in landfills against the seepage of toxic liquid into groundwater.
  6. Clay also serves as a purifier in the removal of heavy metals from wastewater and polluted air.
  7. It can be used as a water softener, in the removal of calcium and magnesium from hard water

2. Tin

Tin is a chemical element of the carbon family. Also known as cassiterite, which is characterized as a brownish, reddish, or yellowish mineral made up of an oxide of tin mineral, it is also characterized as a silvery-white metal that is ductile, malleable, and highly crystalline. It is opaque in appearance.

Tin was first discovered in Nigeria in 1884 by Sir William Wallace. And since then, Nigeria has been mining tin as a major source of economic boost for the nation.

Nigeria was well known for mining tin in abundance and was also named the second tin-producing country in the world behind Russia in 1990. And is currently ranked 13th in the world and 3rd in Africa as Congo DR and Rwanda take the lead respectively.

The estimated reserve in the nation is expected to sustain the country’s economy even without the exploitation of other minerals. Tin metal is found in our everyday life and is essential to an industrial society. It is of great value to the Nigerian nation.

Tin is located in Jos, Bauchi, and Abuja.

Uses of Tin

Tin has a lot of uses and it is been used the world over for various purposes. The following are the uses of Tin:

  1. It is used in the prevention of corrosion or rusting of an object( Tin-plating)
  2. It is used in lead-acid Batteries.
  3. It is used in the formation of Copper Alloys, solders, bronze, and tin chemicals.
  4. It is used in the manufacture of electrical equipment, cans, and containers.

3. Crude Oil

This is a naturally occurring mixture of liquid volatile hydrocarbons composed of hydrogen and carbons though with little oxygen, sulfur, and nitrogen content. It is also known as petroleum.

Crude oil in its natural form has no value but obtains its value from the product it can help to create. Petroleum is also one of the most important and most utilized natural resources in Nigeria. It contributes to about 9% of the country’s GDP.

Crude oil was discovered in Nigeria in 1956 at Oloibiri in Bayelsa State,s  Niger Delta region. Nigeria for over 30 years has established herself as a leading producer of crude oil. With an estimate of 37 million dollar barrels of crude oil reserves. Making Nigeria currently the 1st oil producing country in Africa and the 10th in the World.

The oil deposit is mainly found in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria which is made up of the south-south region and some parts of the south-east and a few states in the south-west of the country the States include: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Cross River, Imo, Anambra and Ondo State.

Uses of Crude Oil

  1. Crude oil is used for diesel production which is used to fuel heavy machinery and generators.
  2. It is used for heating oil which is used to heat buildings.
  3. It is used for gasoline production for vehicles
  4. It is used by petrochemical industries to make plastics, solvents, and polyurethane.
  5. It is used for making perfume, deodorants, hair creams, lotion, shampoo, toothpaste, contact lenses, and depressants.
  6. Commonly used by textile industries to make acrylic rayon, nylon, spandex, polyester, and vegan leather
  7. Many common sports equipment are made from crude oil such as hockey or cricket helmets, basketball, golf balls, tennis racket, surfboards, and skis.

4. Talc

Talc is mostly found in deep-down metamorphic rocks.  And is characterized as a soft mineral that is made up of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen.

Talc appears in various colors of light green, white, pink, and black. It is also known as French chalk, soapstone, and steatite. The talc industry represents one of the most versatile sectors of the industrial minerals of the world.

More than 100 million tonnes of deposits of talc have been identified in several of the Nigerian states.

The exploitation of the vast deposits would therefore satisfy local demand and that for export. In Nigeria, there are only two processing plants for talc which are located in Niger State.

Talc is mainly found in Osun, Kogi, Oyo, and Niger states of Nigeria.

Uses of Talc

  1. It is used in plastics, paints, roofing sheets, ceramics
  2. It is used in cosmetics such as baby powder, talcum powder, and astringent powder majorly for the prevention of rashes in the body.
  3. It is used as lubricants, dusting and toilet powders, and marking pencils.
  4. It serves as a mild abrasive in the polishing of cereal grains such as corn and rice.
  5. It serves as a carrier for insecticides.
  6. Talc is used in pharmaceutical industries as talc Luzenac pharma.

5. Water

Water resources are sources of water that are useful to humans and other living things in the environment. It is a natural resource, that is available in adequate amounts, which is an important source of life’s existence on earth.

It is one of the most important and largest available natural resources that living things entirely depend on. However, just 3% is freshwater which is available for human consumption or utilization.

Nigeria is blessed with vast freshwater and brackish water. The water bodies in Nigeria are divided into saline deltas and estuaries, and freshwaters.

Deltas and estuaries, with their saline wetlands, have a total surface area of 858,000 ha, while freshwaters cover about 3,221,500 ha. Other water bodies, including small reservoirs, and fish ponds cover about 4,108,000 ha.

Thus the total surface area of water bodies in Nigeria, excluding deltas, estuaries, and miscellaneous wetlands suitable for rice cultivation is estimated to be about 14,991,900 ha or 149,919 km2 and constitutes about 15.9% of the total area of Nigeria.

Nigeria is dominated by two major rivers – River Niger and River Benue with some other small rivers such as Rivers(Kaduna, Osun, Ogun, Ose, Qua Iboe, Ase, Orashi, Oji, Yobe, Imo, Oji, etc) which empty themselves in the Atlantic Ocean

Uses of Water Resources

Water Resources are widely used for various purposes which include;

  1. Water is used for irrigation in agriculture.
  2. For domestic activities such as cooking, drinking, washing, and bathing.
  3. Water is used in different industries for production.
  4. It is used for the generation of electricity e.g Kainji dam in Nigeria.
  5. It is used for recreational and ecological activities.

6. Limestone

Limestone as a major building block of the construction industry is a sedimentary rock consisting largely of the mineral calcite and aragonite which has the same composition CaCO3.

This is a non-renewable natural resource found in great amounts in Nigeria; making the country the most richly deposited West African country when it comes to Limestone. Limestone is processed and quarried by various local and international construction companies in Nigeria.

It is a multipurpose natural resource majorly deposited in Cross River and the Ebonyi States but can still be found in commercial deposits in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Ogun, Ondo, and Sokoto

Uses of Limestone

  1. It is used in producing cement by firing it in a kiln with crushed shale.
  2. It serves as a liming agent in ponds and lakes to reduce its acidity and is also a soil treatment agent.
  3. It is adopted in sugar refining,
  4.  Crushed limestone is used for smelting iron ore, serving as a fluxing agent in the steel industry.
  5. It serves as animal feed filler. Chickens need calcium carbonate to lay strong egg shells and this is done through a dietary supplement known as “chicken’s grits”. Milked cattle are also fed with calcium carbonate to replace lost calcium.
  6. When crushed to fine particles, it serves as a weather and heat-resistant coating on asphalt-impregnated roofing.
  7. It is also used in the manufacture of paint, toothpaste, detergents, soaps, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, ceramics, asbestos, industrial adhesives, paper conversion, livestock concentrate, and chemical fillers in rubber and plastic.

7. Iron Ore

Iron ore is an essential rock mineral, which formation came as a result of combined chemical reactions of oxygen and iron in marine and fresh waters.

Iron ore deposits are found in abundance in Nigeria, and West Africa with up to 3 billion tonnes found.

Iron Ore is being mined at Itakpe in Kogi State where the country’s steel industry is located and is already being benefited, up to 67% of iron.

The Aladja and Ajaokuta Steel complexes are ready for consumers of billets and other iron products for downstream industries.

Iron ore can be found in Benue, Anambra, Kogi State, Kwara, and Delta State. like Kaduna, Enugu, Kogi, Niger, Kwara, Bauchi, and Zamfara.

Uses of Iron Ore

  1. Used to make pig iron in blasting furnace.
  2. Iron ore is the major material used in steel making for ships, beams, and automobiles.
  3. It is used for making utensils forks, knives, spoons, etc
  4. From iron ore, we get any form of stainless steel.

8. Gypsum

Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dehydrate with the chemical formula CaSO42H2O. It is a naturally occurring mineral resource found in sedimentary rocks.

Nigeria is endowed with a large amount of this Natural resource which is found virtually in all states in Nigeria. Gypsum has been discovered in Nigeria since the year 1921.

A strategy for large-scale mining of gypsum is urgently required to sustain the existing plants and meet future expansion. About one billion tonnes of gypsum deposits are spread over many states in Nigeria. Statics shows that about one-third of the Nigerian states are endowed with this resource.

Notwithstanding, the Nigerian government imports Gypsum to the country which makes the resource lie dormant without adequate exploitation.

Gypsum, a mineral with great industry use but largely underdeveloped in Nigeria can be found in Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno Delta Edo, Gombe, Imo, Kogi, Ondo, and Sokoto.

Uses of Gypsum

The importance of this mineral resource in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. Some of the uses include:

  1. It serves as fertilizer or soil additive to reduce the alkalinity effect and improve the soil workability and moisture reception.
  2. It serves as the main constituent of wallboard and blackboard chalk
  3. It can be used as paint filler and ornamental stone.
  4. Gypsum is used as a dietary source of calcium; controls the clarity of the wine, water condition for brewing beer, and food additives.
  5. It serves as a color additive in cosmetics such as shampoos, and foot creams and also in drug production.
  6. t is used to settle dirt and clay particles in turbid water without affecting aquatic life.
  7. It is used for cement production.
  8. It is used for the manufacture of Chalk, surgical casts, and plaster of Paris (POP).
  9. It serves as pollutant removal such as the removal of lead from contaminated water

9. Gemstones

Gemstones are one the important natural resources. Though many do not believe that Nigeria has gemstones, in case you don’t know, the gemstones in Nigeria are regarded as one of the best in the world.

Nigeria is richly blessed with one of the most sought-after precious stones in the world. Gemstones are precious or semi-precious stones with a piece of mineral crystals of various kinds, grades, and colors. Examples are emerald, diamond, kyanite, zircon, ammolite, benitoite, ruby, sapphire, etc

Gemstones are found and exploited heavily in states like Plateau, Kaduna, and, Bauchi.

Uses of Gemstones

  1. It is used in jewelry and bracelet making
  2. A gemstone can be used to cut rocks such as the use of diamond to make drilling bits for petroleum industries, mining purposes, and glass cutting.
  3. It is used in electronics. Quartz is a must-have component in any chip made on earth because of its high conductivity and efficiency.

10. Coal

Coal is a fossil fuel formed from the remains of dead animals and plants which is a non-renewable source of energy because it takes millions of years to form and cannot be renewed by men once depleted. Nigeria is blessed with so many coal-rich states.

Coal was first discovered in Nigeria in 1909 at the Udi Ridge in Enugu by a British mines engineer, Albert Kitson. By 1916, the Ogbete Mine was in full operation, and in that year alone, it yielded 24,511 metric tons of coal.

Coal was one of the earliest sources of non-renewable energy used in powering engines. Today, petroleum is our main source of energy. According to the research, Nigerian coal holds a high place among the best coals in the world, due to containing a low amount of sulfur and ash.

Nigeria has about three billion tons of coal, which are preserved in seventeen fields, and there are about 600 tonnes of coal reserves.

States, where coal is found, include; Enugu (Coal City), Benue, Kogi, Delta, Kwara, Plateau, Abia, Anambra, Bauchi, Edo, Ondo, Adamawa, Imo, Zamfara, and Nasarawa.

Uses of Coal

  1. It is used in steel industries e.g. metallurgical coal
  2. It serves as fuel for cooking and electricity generation.
  3. Trains majorly make use of coal as fuel to run.
  4. It is used by steel or cement industries as fuel too in the extraction of iron ore.

List of all the Natural Resources in Nigeria

Listed below are the natural resources in Nigeria alongside the states they are found including:

  • Clay
  • Tin
  • Crude Oil
  • Water
  • Talc
  • Limestone
  • Iron Ore
  • Copper
  • Gypsum
  • Lead
  • Gemstones
  • Bitumen
  • Silver
  • Bentonite and Baryte
  • Kaolin
  • Salt
  • Gold
  • Coal
  • Bismuth
  • Columbite
  • Granite
  • Dolomite
  • Glass Sand
  • Fluorspar
  • Phosphate


Nigeria is a country full of potential, rich in both human and natural resources, many of which are not found anywhere around the world. These have made them one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to the number of natural resources within their geographical area.

The importance of natural resources in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. However, it is dependent on how it can be harnessed and put to good use for the development of the country’s economy.

As one of the major sources of income for the country is the availability of natural resources like petroleum and a few others while some important resources lie dormant even as they have been discovered, most of the resources have been left untapped or underutilized as all the focus of the government has been on the exploitation of crude oil which has not also been put to good use for the blessing of the nation.

10 Natural Resources in Nigeria-FAQs

Which natural resource is the most abundant in Nigeria?

Clay is the most abundant natural resource as it found in almost all the Nigerian at a quantifiable rate

Does Nigeria have Diamonds?

Diamonds as one of the gemstones are not found in Nigeria. Despite there were claims sometime ago that it was discovered in Kafur Local Government Area of Katsina State but that’s not true as many diamonds seen in the country are imported.

How many natural resources are found in Nigeria?

Nigeria has over 40 mineral resources spread across the 36 states of the nation including Abuja (Federal Capital Territory).

Which state has the highest number of natural resources?

There are about 23 Minerals found in Plateau state, which makes the state with the highest number of natural resources


Environmental Consultant at Environment Go! | + posts

Ahamefula Ascension is a Real Estate Consultant, Data Analyst, and Content writer. He is the founder of Hope Ablaze Foundation and a Graduate of Environmental Management in one of the prestigious colleges in the country. He is obsessed with Reading, Research and Writing.

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