As miners set to scale up production, compete internationally
By Gabriel Ewepu
THE Federal Government, Friday, considered an Executive Order on local production of barite and consumption by the oil and gas sector instead of importation.
This was the assertion of the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekun Adegbite, during a courtesy visit of Association of Miners and Processors of Barite, AMPOB, led by its National President, Stephen Alao, at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.
Adegbite said the government would throw its weight behind the activities of the miners in order to save millions of Dollars used in importing the essential commodity by operators in the oil and gas industry.
He said: “One thing I want you to guarantee if your association can match their quality and price. By pricing we will get the international pricing as well and if you are willing to match that price is a simple Executive Order, which is part of the local content thing and make sure that nobody imports barites again if your association can meet that demand.
“Secondly, if you have empirical information about barites across the country as you said we are going to work on that and to safe Nigerian Geological Survey Agency some resources.
“We will go a whole lot with your association and to create the enabling environment and we make sure we go on to the highest level to make sure that a legislation just like the Executive Order to protect what is our own. If we have seen that this can be produced locally it will save a lot of foreign exchange.”
He also assured the miners of an interfacing body to commence work in order to facilitate and fast-track production of barite in the country save foreign change flight.
“We will take it from here and probably have an interfacing body so that we have some people on our side and you have some people on your side, and of course I think the best person to handle this is the Minister of State himself since he is knowledgeable in this.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, maintained that they are ready to collaborate with relevant stakeholders in the sector and move it forward by changing the narratives.
“We coming into this Ministry we have a target and want to move this country forward. I believe that we do have all it takes to change the narratives in this country and I believe that we have a structure for barite that would be a benefit of your association if you are well organised. We will look into some of the issues you have raised.
“We are here to collaborate with you, make your association succeed and we want the committed and genuine miners in the barite subsector because when we are speaking to the authorities we know what we are saying”, Ogah said.
Earlier speaking was the National President, AMPOB, Stephen Alao, said lack of direct funding has negatively affected the production of barite, which Nigeria has the largest deposit in Africa.
Alao also stated that price of the commodity has been a huge challenge that has been demoralizing, because they do not have control over it despite the quality is one of the best and could compete internationally.
“We know where the deposits are. Mining Corporation did extensive work but today we are still spending money looking for barite deposits.”
He also said they have engaged oil and gas companies on how to make use of their barite local mined and produced which is part of the requirements for local content in the oil and gas industry instead of importation.