By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA—THE Federal Government yesterday assured that Ajaokuta Steel Company would operate at full capacity in the second quarter of 2017.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who disclosed this when giving a scorecard of his Ministry’s performance in 2016 and projections for 2017 in Abuja, also disclosed that the government had made progress over the protracted litigations on legacy assets, particularly Ajaokuta Steel Company, by signing a Modified Concession Agreement, MCA, that had allowed for the commencement of the return of the company to government.
He said: “We have made progress in resolving the legal issues around our legacy projects, particularly Ajaokuta. We have signed a Modified Concession Agreement, MCA, that has allowed for the commencement of the return of the entity to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“We are being guided by our consultants to take the most appropriate steps to select a new core investor with the requisite financial and technical capability to ensure Ajaokuta is finally put to work after several false starts in the past. We expect this process to be fully on stream by the second quarter of 2017.”
Also highlighting some key achievements for the year under review, the Minister said: “We have improved the productivity of the sector by tripling the ministry’s contribution to the federation account to about N2 billion in 2016, up from N700 million in 2015.
“Increased productivity in our mining space has also led to significant discovery of mineral deposits, the most noteworthy being the large find of high-grade nickel a few months ago in Dangoma, Kaduna state by an Australian mining company operating in Nigeria.
“Government has constructed 10 Prototype Mineral Buying Centres across the country for specific strategic industrial minerals. The centres are to serve as standardization centres to enable ASM Cooperatives and operators receive fair premium for their labour.”