Indication that most parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development would gain autonomy has emerged with the matching order on National Metallurgical Development Centre to go commercial. How prepared is the agency for this task?
Established in 1973 primarily as a testing laboratory of the defunct Nigeria Steel Development Authority, NSDA, to specifically handle the analysis of raw materials for the proposed steel plant, the National Metallurgical Development Centre latter changed into Metallurgical Research and Test Division of the National Steel Council, after the abrogation of the Decree establishing the NSDA.
The abrogation was meant to give it a broader scope to carry out research and development activities in all metallurgical processes for the benefit of solid minerals and metallurgical industries.
The name, National Metallurgical Development Centre was adopted in 1987, after the centre was given legal backing by the Act No 50 of 1992.
The agency, as a parastatal in the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the National Metallurgical Development Centre, NMDC, is charged with the responsibility for carrying out research and development work for solid minerals and metallurgical development.
But the broad objectives of the NMDC is to provide the research and development input for the economic growth of Nigeria’s solid minerals and metallurgical industries through innovation and adaptation of minerals processing and metallurgical technologies so that an ever increasing proportion of the country’s requirements in these areas can be met through the development of local raw materials, particularly in the steel, non-ferrous metals, foundry and refractory industrial minerals sub-sectors.
The centre going by records, have not derailed from its original mandate since inception. In response to government’s policy of diversifying the economy through solid minerals and metals sector development, the sector strategically acquired various equipment and facilities through budgetary provisions and collaborations to enhance its capacity to offer effective and efficient research and development of the metallurgical, solid minerals and allied sectors of the economy.
The need to prepare the National Metallurgical Development Centre, as an agency not only to meet up with its full mandate but, surpass the set record, necessitated a stakeholders’ forum recently where strategies towards effecting the set goals were put in place.
The forum which had experts drawn not only from research institutes, but the academia, harped on the way forward in the strengthening of NMDC. The most challenging task thrown at those in authority at the National Metallurgical Development Centre, was the call by Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Musa Mohammed Sada, that the agency should strive to be on its foot without government’s sponsorship.
The minister said NMDC must commercialize its services in order to generate revenue for self sustenance in view of prevailing government financial situation in the country.
The forum, with the theme, “Transformation of the solid minerals, metallurgical and allied sectors of the economy” was to accentuate the policy thrust of government while establishing its linkages to other sectors of the economy as well as its enormous capacity to support and stimulate growth in virtually all sectors of the economy.
He said the NMDC had enormous potentials to sustain itself like its counterparts in Malaysia, India and other parts of the world noting that it had made “significant contributions to the economy of Nigeria.”
“Nigeria’s solid minerals sector has become vibrant. Now, local and foreign investors as well as operators need the services of the NMDC in areas like beneficiation and milling of mineral ores; extractive and physical metallurgy; chemical analysis; foundry technology; feasibility studies for mineral projects; failure analysis; development of flow-sheets among others,” the minister said.
NMDC, he insisted, had “established the process of producing tin metal of international standard locally by fabricating and constructing a pilot scale refractory furnace and refining facility at the centre”, saying “the nation prides in the fact that the only tin smelting facility functional in the country is the one at NMSD, Jos.”