Pandemic stalling Ajaokuta Steel revival efforts, says FG
Although the Senate last month, expressed its readiness to work with the executive arm in reviving the Ajaokuta Steel Company (ASC) project, the Federal Government has said that global travel restriction occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, was preventing the technical experts from Russia from coming over to conduct an audit of the steel plant.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, while taking stock of activities in the last one year, however noted that the technical audit of the plant would be done as soon as the flight restriction was over.He said: “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.”
Recall that Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, had led the Senate team on an oversight visit to Ajaokuta Steel Mill, and the Itakpe National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), after the President rejected a bill passed by the Senate seeking $1billionn from the Excess Crude Account to fund the completion of the Complex.
Earlier in May, the government inaugurated the Ajaokuta Presidential Project Implementation Team headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, with the Minister as the alternate chairman.
According to the SGF, the mandate given to the implementation team is to prepare and submit periodic work plans and develop concession contract terms towards reviving the company.The revamp of the steel plant will be supported with funds estimated at $1.46billion from AFREXIM bank as well as the Russia Export Centre.
Adegbite also lauded President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for its job creation drive, as he took stock of his first year in office in Abuja, on Monday.
The Minister, who was appointed last August pointed out that the Ministry had created a business friendly and an enabling environment in the sector for the creation of jobs.
Adegbite revealed that the country was 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. He noted that the government was creating an enabling environment across the gold value chain.
“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,” he said.
Adegbite equally revealed that the government had licensed two gold refineries that would refine gold to the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) standard.
Furthermore, the Minister projected that a slew of industries would spring up across the gold value chain. “Numerous industries will spring off when our gold economy becomes full-fledged. Some of them would include equipment leasing and repairs, logistics 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.”
Adegbite also said that Nigeria, 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, adding that the first batch of the artisanal-mined gold bars, to be purchased by the Central Bank, was unveiled at a presentation ceremony to President Buhari on July 16, 2020.
“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 said.
Furthermore, Adegbite disclosed that the Ministry had initiated a process that would lead to local capacity development in the production of barite, and had employed a consultant saddled to develop a roadmap for the sector.
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