Buhari govt unlikely to fix Ajaokuta steel as planned: minister

The Nigerian government has said that it will no longer be able to revitalize the Ajaokuta Steel Company in 2022 as previously pledged, citing the impact of COVID-19 and the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Mines and Steel Development Minister Olamilekan Adegbite said the Buhari administration is also unlikely to complete the project before he leaves office in 2023. The minister told reporters Thursday during a weekly ministerial briefing in Abuja that prior to the pandemic, the government had successfully convinced Russia, the original builders of the steel complex, to assess its status and consider completing the steel facility, but could not continue with the process. negotiations due to force majeure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Adegbite said the deal with Russia involved a $2 million fee for a technical audit to determine the status of the facility before work could begin, and that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the payment. “We made frantic efforts to continue negotiations with Russia after the closure, but progress stalled again due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” the minister added. Mr. Adegbite had said in December 2021 that the technical evaluation would take place in early 2022. The audit was to verify any equipment or processes that might have become obsolete during the more than 40 years of the facility’s existence, he told SPGlobal. . The multi-million dollar Ajaokuta plant was built by the Soviets between 1979 and the mid-1990s, but never produced steel because the project was never completed. It was also poorly managed. A concession of India’s Global Steel Holdings facility has been terminated and the government has said it plans to bring in new investors to take a percentage of the steelmaker’s shares. Adegbite said the government would initiate “irreversible processes” to ensure the resumption and eventual completion of the steel installation, possibly beyond the Buhari administration. Ajaokuta Steel Plant Gold Mining Similarly, when asked about gold mining activities in Zamfara state, the minister said that the government has stopped mining activities in the area because the conflict in Zamfara has gone beyond mining. “We try to nip them in the bud wherever they rear their heads. With the community informing us, we have a rapid intervention force. We can’t be proactive, it’s too expensive to maintain. But we have a rapid intervention force,” he said. “If we hear that there is mining in some nook and cranny, we move in there and evict them. Those who are arrested, we confiscate their equipment and they are prosecuted.” barite production Meanwhile, the minister also revealed that the country has reached self-sufficiency in barite production and would no longer need imports from October 2022. He explained that barite is a mineral used in the oil and gas industry, and that Nigeria imports about $300 million worth of barite each year from Morocco. “So when we took office in 2019, we set up a body and said we should have made barite in Nigeria, to save ourselves that kind of money and also possibly to export barite,” the official said. In October last year, he said, Nigerian-made barite was launched and is only produced in Nigeria up to the industry standard that meets international standards and is measured by the American Petroleum Institute (API). Since it meets all international standards, the minister said no one had to import barite into Nigeria since October last year and the system is still in operation. He said that there will be a transparent platform, where you submit your application from the miners to the processors and the people who will pack it, and that everything is done online. “We are now sufficient in barite production and now we can export to places like Ghana and South Africa, where they don’t have barite and they also do exploration. At least we are closer to them than to Morocco,” he added. Barite is one of seven strategic minerals established to unlock the potential of Nigeria’s solid minerals sector. It is a key material used in the oil and gas industry as a weighting agent to increase the density of drilling fluids, mainly for oil and gas exploration in order to minimize the incidence of blowouts. The ore, which can be found in Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba, Benue, Adamawa, Cross River, Gombe, Ebonyi and Zamfara states, is estimated to have a proven reserve of 15 million metric tons. Read More Related News Here Let here it in the comment below if you do have an opinion on this; Buhari govt unlikely to fix Ajaokuta steel as planned: minister