*As FG hire consultants to develop sub-sector, targets over 5,000 jobs
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Adegbite Olamilekan, has assured that Nigeria will soon be self-sufficient in barite production.
Adegbite made this known during his marking of one year in office as appointed Minister by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 August, which he took stock of the Ministry’s achievement under his leadership.
According to him the Ministry has out in serious mechanism in place to revolutionise the gold industry which soon Nigeria will be a busy gold melting-point under the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative, PAGMI, which had attracted huge private sector interest indicated by investors, where some have gone ahead to apply for buying centres, two investors have commenced construction of gold refineries.
He said: “The government is doing all within its powers to develop the nation’s barite sub-sector of the economy as mechanism is put in place to make the country self-sufficient in barite production, processing and use with a process that would lead to local capacity development in the production of barite.
“Presently, the barite that is used in the oil and gas industry is imported. But we are resolved to reverse this trend. As you may know barite is a critical weighting material in drilling fluids due to its high specific gravity.
“We are working on a Roadmap towards a sustainable barite industry in Nigeria to support, regulate and monitor stakeholders along the barite value chain. This process will identify and assist local mining and milling companies which would ultimately lead to the creation of jobs and save the nation foreign exchange expended on importing barite.”
Meanwhile, according to the Minister a consultant to develop a roadmap for the barite industry has been contracted to galvanise the industry that will lead to full-blown processing and production including attraction of investors that would prevent capital flight in its importation, which will further create wealth for local companies.
He also added that with the current move by the government to harness the heavily endowed deposit of barite over 5, 000 jobs will be created.
Speaking further on what Buhari-led administration has done and still doing about the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, ASCL, the Minister expressed optimism that before the second tenure of Buhari expires in 2023 the company will be producing steel and other allied products in full blast.
He also explained that if not for the COVID-19 pandemic which has impeded international travel technical experts from Russia who were prepared and ready to arrive the country would have been to ASCL for the technical audit, which he said as soon as international flights resume they will come for that as the first stage to make Ajaokuta work.
“I am hopeful that Ajaokuta will come on stream before the end of President Buhari’s tenure and when that happens it is poised to create thousands of jobs”, he said.