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FG retrieves Nigeria’s geological data from UK to cater for 12.2m steel needs

From Babatunde Razaq

Disturbed by the continued imports of steel and steel products which run into several trillions of naira annually, the Federal Government has begun the process of retrieving old colonial geological data from the United Kingdom (UK) as part of efforts to augment 12.2 million metric tonnes of steel deficit in the country.

The effort is being undertaken through a serious engagement and dialogue with the British Geological Survey (BGS) with a view to developing a full-fledged national electronic geological data archiving system for which master plan on new mineral deposits and mining can be developed to unlock potentials in the industry.

Speaking at the 19th Annual General Meeting and International Conference of the Nigerian Society of Mining Engineers (NSME) held in Abeokuta on Thursday, Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, declared that holistic efforts are being marshalled to unlock potentials abound in the nation’s mineral and mining sector which is still largely underdeveloped.

The Minister, who was represented by Obadiah Simon Nkom, Director General of Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office, Abuja, noted that Nigeria has only been able to attract 0.12% out of the 5% share of exploration investment in mineral resources in West Africa and there must be a heavy investment in mining sector if the huge deficit of steel would be met.

Adegbite stated that part of aggressive and meaningful intervention of Federal Government towards unlocking hidden potentials in the sector is frantic effort to resuscitate Ajaokuta Steel Company and other relevant mining and steel rolling mills across the country, saying Nigeria must “wean the economy from its addiction to crude oil and diversify into other sectors.”

He said, “The Federal Government and Ministry of Mines and Steel Development have consciously made efforts at addressing the issues of insufficient geo-science data and information and the enforcement of Mining laws and regulations.

“Nigeria’s minerals and mining sector is still largely underdeveloped despite its glorious past and abundance of mineral resources for development. The good news is that the Federal government is determined to wean the economy from its addiction to crude oil, the failure to do so will be so catastrophic.

“Nigeria has only been able to attract 0.12% out if the 5% share of exploration investment flowing into West Africa. Yet exploration is critical for discovery and creating a pipeline of new mineral deposit that could lead to future lines.

“The integrated mineral exploration programme was set up to address the issue of scarce geological data through NGSA. (Nigerian Geological Survey Agency) NGSA awarded to internationally acclaimed and competent exploration companies for the purpose of exploration of classified minerals such as gold, led, zinc iron ore, rare metals and others.

“We have commenced the retrieving of Nigeria’s colonial geological data from the United Kingdom by engaging the British Geological Survey (BGS) to a national electronic geo data archiving management system to be called the Nigeria Geo Data Centre at the NGSA and the Nigeria Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency (NSRMEA). This will provide easy access for investors.”

Also, Ebenezer Damisa, President of the Nigerian Society of Mining Engineers (NSME) asked the Federal Government not to only resuscitate the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Industry, but to also revive the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) in Kogi state to further boost the country’s economy and unlock the hidden potentials in the sector.

Damisa confirmed that two companies are capable of generating over 16,000 direct employments for Nigerian youths, insisting that the resuscitation of the steel industry would be a critical success factor of President Mohammadu Buhari- led administration which is championing the Economic Diversification Agenda and the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERPG).

“It is estimated that Ajaokuta Steel Industry should produce 5.2 million metric tonnes of steel per year out of the 12.2 million metric tonnes to meet the minimum indices of genuine industrial growth”, Damisa noted.



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