Expresses optimism over Ajaokuta Steel Coy’s resuscitation
Says more jobs created in mining sector under Buhari
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite, Monday, assured that Nigeria will become West Africa’s gold producing powerhouse based on the huge deposit of gold, human resource, government’s drive and initiative, and ease of doing business for the industry.
Adegbite stated this during his marking of one year in office as Minister under the Buhari-led administration while taking stock of achievement recorded and ongoing efforts in terms of projects, programmes, and policies within the period under review.
It will be recalled he was appointed Minister of Mines and Steel Development by President Muhammadu Buhari in August 2019 alongside the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah.
According to him President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has for the past one year gone all out for job creation drive, which the mining sector has been galvanized for that to create thousands of jobs for Nigerians.
He said: “The Ministry had created a business friendly and an enabling environment in the sector for the creation of jobs. The country is on its way to becoming a major gold producing hub in the West African region, which would diversify the country’s revenue away from crude oil and create jobs for its teeming youthful population.
“Indeed the international road-shows we have had in the past have borne fruits. Today we have Thor exploration in Osun State through the Segilola Gold project, which is projected to start producing in the first half of next year. The project is expected to create about 400 direct jobs and 1000 indirect jobs.
“The government had licensed two gold refineries that would refine gold to the London Bullion Market Association, LBMA, standard.
“Numerous industries will spring off when our gold economy becomes full-fledged.
“Some of them would include equipment leasing and repairs, logistic and transport as gold requires a specialized means of transport, security, insurance, aggregators, and so on.
“These would ultimately create tens of thousands of jobs. Indeed, the government of President Buhari is all about job creation.”
According to him the country for the first time had mined, processed and refined gold under the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative, PAGMI, for use as part of Nigeria’s external reserves.
He also maintained that the first batch of the artisanally-mined gold bars would be purchased by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
“PAGMI will result in the creation of thousands of new mining and formalized jobs, leading to poverty alleviation for many households. Under the scheme, artisanal and small scale gold miners will earn more from higher productivity, better recovery rates through mechanization of operations, and better access to reliable geological information”, he stated.
Meanwhile, he also expressed optimism that Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, ASCL will be resuscitated and become productive the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term tenure.
The Minister also explained that currently with the COVID-19 pandemic based on global travel restriction technical experts from Russia have not been able to arrive for the technical audit of ASCL, but assured that as soon as international flights resumes they will be in the country.
“I am hopeful that Ajaokuta will come on stream before the end of President Buhari’s tenure and when that happens it is poised to create thousands of jobs”, he said.
Speaking further he (Adegibite) made reiterated that the government is doing all within its powers to develop the nation’s barite sub-sector of the economy as the mechanism is put in place to make the country self-sufficient in barite production, processing and use with a process that would lead to local capacity development in the production of barite.
He also made it known that the Ministry has employed a consultant to develop a roadmap for the barite industry, which will lead to the creation of over 5, 000 jobs.
He said, “Presently, the barite that is used in the oil and gas industry is imported. But we are resolved to reverse this trend. As you may know, barite is a critical weighting material in drilling fluids due to its high specific gravity.
“We are working on a Roadmap towards a sustainable barite industry in Nigeria to support, regulate, and monitor stakeholders along the barite value chain. This process will identify and assist local mining and milling companies which would ultimately lead to the creation of jobs and save the nation foreign exchange expended on importing barite.”