By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite, Thursday, disclosed that Federal Government will soon ban barite importation into the country.
This was made known by Adegbite at a one-day Stakeholders Forum on Local Barite Development in Nigeria’ held in Abuja, where he lamented continued importation of barite leading to huge capital flight and exportation of jobs from the country.
He further stated that from recent demand and gap analysis, which indicated that out of the total value of Nigeria’s industrial minerals imports in 2016, barite represented 3.6 per cent.
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He said: “In line with this objective, the ministry facilitated the development of an industrial mineral road map aimed at optimizing Nigeria’s industrial minerals to meet the standards of the manufacturing, industrial, and construction industry and to reduce import dependency.
The road map delineated seven key minerals for the quick development of which barite is one of them.
“Evidence from our recent demand/gap analysis shows that out of the total value of Nigeria’s industrial minerals imports in 2016, barite represented 3.6 per cent.
The country spends millions of hard-earned dollars every year importing barite, a mineral we are abundantly endowed within the northern part of the country. With each import of barite we are shipping thousands of jobs from our country to other countries.
“The long term plan is to place a ban on the importation of Barite once the local market is satisfied and, export Barite to other African countries where oil and gas drilling activities are taking place. This will lead to job creation and boost the nation’s revenue base.”
The Minister also raised hope of stakeholders in the industry with roadmap currently initiated to reverse the tale and trend.
“This is why I am quite delighted to initiate a road map for the development of barite that would reverse this trend. We are creating a new framework that would promote the local production of barites that meets international acceptable standards.
“To meet our overarching objective, we have mapped out a development strategy towards creating a sustainable industry in Nigeria to support, regulate and monitor stakeholders along the Barite value chain.
“This process will assist local companies with proven reserves that meet the industry standards to develop capacity and close the demand/supply gap that exists in the country currently in the short term”, he said.
Meanwhile, the Consultant on Barite Development, Dolapo Laguju, in a presentation titled, ‘An Overview on the Accelerated Development of the Barite Industry in Nigeria’ said the industry has been operated largely by artisanal miners, and there has been the challenge of poor data showing details of Barite deposits, quantity, and quality; access to market which has a lot of challenges including the not meeting specifications by the industry, packaging not standardized yet, supply shortage, no enough barite to supply the market currently.
Laguju further stated that there is a big gap between demand and supply, hence mining techniques need to improve by operators.
He also said operators in the sector have accessibility problems; security concerns plaguing the industry which had made most mines inaccessible.
He added that barite pricing has been unstable over the years due to quality issues, which members of the association want to have a flat price and market regulation is needed for the industry.
Meanwhile, according to him barite consumption for 2020 alone is valued at about $96 million, and the estimated consumption is 440, 000 metric tonnes for this year.