The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, disclosed this during a visit to the Abuja Steel Mills Limited, Minna.
According to Fayemi, the ministry is considering the power sector as its priority area that needs coal to address electricity deficit in the country.
“We are not saying that we will not give coal to others that need coals for the production of steel or relevant manufacturing works, but right now power sector needs coal,” he said.He said that the management of Abuja Steel Mill had requested for coal for the production of steel, adding that the ministry would support local steel manufacturers that could solve steel deficit.
“Our work as a ministry is to facilitate companies that have taken it upon themselves to manufacture steel locally, rather than importing substandard steel with our hard earned Forex.”
He expressed appreciation to the management of the company for employing 450 Nigerians and providing healthcare facilities, adding that the company should train its local engineers to perform or take over its expatriate tasks.
He also urged the company to continue to maintain its standard of production to gain adequate market and bridge steel importation gap.
He said the ministry would encourage the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing to link the company to construction giants in the country to patronise their products.
He promised to liaise with Nigerian Customs Service on scrap metals being exported on a daily basis, as scarcity of the material had hiked prices of steel produced locally.
However, he promised to solve some of the requests presented by the company, adding that it should also fulfill the ministry’s requirements to move the country forward.
Mr Richpal Singh, Executive Director and Advisor of the company, urged the minister to make coal sites available to the company to boost steel production. Singh said availability of coal would enable the company to produce 6.8 million tonnes required for local consumption.
He said the scrap metals being sold at the rate of N50,000 per tonne now sold at N250,000, as the materials were being exported due to high exchange rate.
He said one of the company’s challenges was scarcity of scrap metals being used for the production of steel, as Nigerians were now making brisk business with some Chinese firms to package and export them. The company produces 150,000 tonnes yearly and is currently the highest steel producer in the country.
All the local steel companies in Nigeria are producing 2.5 million tonnes annually and Nigeria requires 6.8 tonnes of steel every year. The company is an Indian organisation with other seven subsidiaries in steel, chemical and energy production.