From Ben Agande, Kaduna
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite has said that the Federal Government will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a Russian company by January 2020, for the resuscitation of the multi-billion naira Ajaokuta Steel complex.
The Minister disclosed this in Kaduna after embarking on a facility tour of the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency (NRSMEA).
According to Adegbite, once the Russian contractors to handle the resuscitation of the Steel Rolling Mill are identified, the MoU would be signed and work would commence in earnest.
He said funds for the resuscitation of the steel mill was already in place, and a committee has been set up to kick start the project.
The minister directed the Director-General of the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency (NRSMEA) to nominate two persons from the agency to join the committee, saying that the agency was critical to the development of Ajaokuta project.
“This agency is invaluable towards the resuscitation or development of Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mills. As you all know, the President is making sure that we resuscitate Ajaokuta Steel, that Ajaokuta should come back on stream. We have taken the first step. Talks are on with the original builders, a Russian company and MOU Draft is being studied by both sides. And hopefully, sometime in January 2020, we will probably sign the MOU and once the contractors are identified from the Russian side, the funds are already in place, the work will start. While we are still waiting as being promised for the two to three years agreement period to fire up Ajaokuta, there are a lot of activities that must start simultaneously he said”
Earlier, in his address, the NSRMEA Director-General, said the agency which is saddled with the responsibility of mining and exploration in the country, was constrained by inadequate skills, inadequate project vehicles, modelling software as well as dilapidated offices.