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‘Federal government is not doing enough for Barite exploration’

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Stakeholders in the mining sector have said the Federal Government is not put in place enough policies and strategies for the exploration of Barite in Nigeria.They said since its discovery in 1954, the mineral is found in Adamawa, Benue, Cross River, Ebonyi, Gombe, Nasarawa, Katsina, Plateau, and Zamfara states. Speaking at a Stakeholders’ Forum on Barite, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, said government is initiating mining sector reforms that would deliver set objectives.
 
Adegbite also explained that this would restore growth in the industry and other allied sectors, adding, investing in the people and building a globally competitive economy is government’s priority.

“In line with this, the Ministry has developed an industrial mineral road map aimed at optimising Nigeria’s minerals to meet the standards of the manufacturing, and to reduce import dependency,” he added.

Explaining further, the Minister observed that exploration of Barite would reverse this trend, saying: “we are creating a new framework to promote the local production to meets international standards.”He therefore emphasised that recent demand/gap analysis shows that out of the total value of industrial minerals imported in 2016, Barite represented 3.6 percent, and the commodity is abundant in the north.

“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.”

Also, Consultant, Dolapo Laguju, said they’ve mapped out a development strategy towards creating a sustainable industry to support, regulate and monitor stakeholders along the Barite value chain. 

“To meet the overarching objective, this process will assist local companies with proven reserves to develop capacity and close the demand/supply gap that exists in the country currently in the short term.”Dr. Abdulrazaq Garba of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), noted that to deepen reforms would attract new investors and a wide network of parties to build attractive mining ecosystem.

He added that upstream firms have not done enough diligent searches to ascertain whether the commodity was in commercial quantity, saying that presently Nigeria has 22,298,843 metric tons of barite.On his part, President, Association of Miners and Processors of Barite, Chief Stephen Alao, attributed the slow pace of exploration of Barite to inconsistency in policies despite being discovered 66 years ago.


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