The Federal Government is working towards auctioning its bitumen block in the third quarter of this year.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, disclosed this in a statement issued by his media aide on Tuesday, after an enquiry of the Australian High Commissioner, John Donnelly.
Adegbite explained that the ministry was still gathering data on some of the bitumen fields, though they were edging close to completion. He added that there were ample opportunities for investors in the local development of bitumen.
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He said, “A lot of people are interested in bitumen which is coming from both local and foreign investors. However, we are still acquiring data in some of the fields and once the data is in, we will go for auctioning in the third quarter.”
He added that the ministry was working on raising the quality of barite produced in the country to the internationally acceptable standard, known as American Petroleum Institute (API) standard.
“The ministry had contracted a consultant to help raise standard in the local production of barite to ensure that the oil industry players begin to use barite produced in Nigeria as against importing from other countries.
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There is ample opportunity for investors in the barite segment of the sector. We are also working on the local production of barite. Barite is a critical weighting material in drilling fluids used in the oil industry.
We have a lot of barite but the issue is that it is not produced to API standards. However, we are putting a system in place which would be ready to launch in about July. We have got the millers who can produce barite to API standard. Hence we will be able to compete with foreign ones and it would save Nigeria a lot of foreign exchange in import substitution,” he added.
Adegbite also said that Ajaokuta steel plant would be a game-changer for the country when fully functional, revealing that about 13 other minerals were required in the production of steel.
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He noted that Ajaoukta steel was meant to bring development to the 13 other minerals which would have presented opportunities for investors, and created thousands of jobs for Nigerians.
Donnelly expressed his country’s willingness to work with Nigeria to develop the mining sector.
He said, “Mining is such a long term venture. It takes about 15 to 20 years for a particular deposit to be identified, worked out and scoped out before you arrange the finances and start to develop and go into production. So we are a very patient people in the mining sector.”
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