The federal government will auction its bitumen block in the third quarter of 2021.
This was announced by the Minister for Mining and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, in a statement issued by the ministry and viewed by Nairametrics on Thursday.
According to him, the ministry is working on auctioning its bitumen block in the third quarter of the year.
In response to a request from Australian High Commissioner John Donnelly, who visited the department on Tuesday, Adegbite announced that the department is still collecting data on some of the bitumen fields and is nearing completion.
He pointed out that there are numerous opportunities for investors in the local development of the bitumen sector.
“A lot of people are interested in bitumen, which comes from both local and foreign investors. However, we are still collecting data in some areas and once the data is in we will be auctioning off in the third quarter, ”he said, adding that PWC was advising the ministry on its bitumen development roadmap.
Adegbite also announced that the department is working to upgrade the quality of the barite produced in the country to an internationally acceptable standard known as the American Petroleum Institute, API, standard.
The minister announced that the ministry had hired a consultant to raise the standard of local barite production to ensure that oil industry players start using barite produced in Nigeria instead of imports from other countries.
He pointed out that there are ample opportunities for investors in the barite segment of the sector.
Adegbite said, “We are also working on local barite production. Barite is a critical weighting material in drilling fluids used in the oil industry. We have a lot of barite, but the problem is that it’s not made to API standards. However, we are rolling out a system that will be operational around July. We have the millers who can produce barite according to the API standard. So we can compete with foreign countries one day and Nigeria would save a lot of foreign currency in import substitution.
“The Ajaokuta steel mill, when fully operational, would be a turning point for the country. It found that about 13 other minerals were needed for steel production. Ajaoukta steel would have developed the 13 other minerals, which would have given investors development opportunities and created thousands of jobs for Nigerians.
“One of the mandates the President gave me was to use the sector to diversify the economy and create jobs. And Ajaokuta is a place that would easily employ 10,000 Nigerians if it was fully operational. About 14 minerals are used in steel production via the blast furnace. We have all of these minerals in Nigeria. The production of these other minerals, which we need for steel production, will also create jobs. “
However, Adegbite expressed regret that the pandemic had slowed down the plan to revitalize the Ajaokuta Steel plant. He revealed that the travel restrictions and cumbersome logs had prevented the 60-person technical audit team from Russia from coming to Nigeria for a full technical audit of the facility.
“We turned to the Russians, the original builder, to revive the facility. The first step towards resuscitation was a technical audit. We were expecting a 60-man team from Russia, to be supplemented by a 100-man team from Nigeria. The Ajaokuta revival was such a loft goal and it was in full swing. But then the pandemic struck.
“This prevented the Russians who are supposed to carry out the technical audit from coming to Nigeria. I very much hope that they can come very soon and that we will get the plan back on track to revitalize the facility. It will help our industrialization because the production of liquid steel will take us to the next level of industrialization as we can make parts for vehicles, engine blocks, etc., ”he added.
Adegbite also announced that the ministry has worked with artisanal and small-scale miners and created a favorable environment for them to work in the formal sector. He added that the ministry had created many incentives for them to work in the formal sector, such as training and easy access to funds.
“We bring artisanal miners together and bring them to a formal arrangement. We have a department in the ministry for artisanal miners that offers various incentives for them to enter the formal sector, ”he said.
What Australia is saying
Donnelly expressed his country’s willingness to work with Nigeria to develop the mining sector.
He said, “Mining is such a long-term endeavor. It takes approximately 15 to 20 years to identify, work out, and demarcate a particular deposit before you arrange the finances and begin development and production. So we are a very patient people in the mining sector. “