Following the resolution of the 8-year-long litigations surrounding the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and National Iron Ore Mining, Itakpe, the Federal Government has commenced the search for interested investors to revive the ailing companies, Minister of Mines and Steel, Kayode Fayemi, has said.
Speaking yesterday at the 2nd Nigeria Mining Week in Abuja, the minister said the Federal Government and Global Infrastructure Limited have finally signed an agreement that released the two plants back to the Nigerian government.
He said with the agreement, the two plants have now been freed from eight years of dormancy occasioned by the protracted feud between government and Global Infrastructure Limited.
“Only last week, a new administrator was appointed for Ajaokuta Steel Company with a view to proceeding to engage new core-investors with financial and technical capacity to activate and run the steel company.
“The reactivation of the steel company will provide the input needed for the infrastructure requirement of the country and provide the import substitution savings of about $3.5 billion annually spent on the importation of steel products,” Fayemi said.
He said the government is also making progress in resolving the ownership issue of the Aluminium Smelter Company at Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State.
The minister said all those were problems the Buhari administration inherited but because government is a continuum, the administration took the responsibility of resolving the crises in order to move the sector forward.
Fayemi attributed the recent growth in the mining sector and the improvement in the investment risk profile of the country’s mining jurisdiction to the success of the reforms being put in place by the Federal Government.
In his speech, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said mining and agriculture had being the two major areas President Muhammadu Buhari was very much concerned about right from the electioneering period.
The minister said the bulk of the spending on infrastructure would go into boosting the mining sector and enriching miners as most of the materials for road construction, housing, transportation and power are sourced from the sector.
“The N100 billion Sukuk to build roads is actually going to the owners of quarry and those in the business of granite, laterite, gravel, sand, cement, iron rods, asphalt etc. So, better days are here for miners,” Fashola said.
The President of Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Shehu Sani, lauded the current crack down on illegal miners, stressing that it has encouraged more miners to invest in the sector. He called for sustenance of the crackdown.
He also advised government to gear up for the impending boom in lead and lithium, following plans by some western countries to embrace renewable energy.
Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State, on his part, urged the Federal Government to ban the importation of barite as done during the military era so that the country can increase earnings from the mineral which is used in oil exploration.
He said the two major companies involved in barite production during the period of the ban recorded massive patronage, but which went down immediately the ban was lifted.