Simeon Ebulu and Daniel Essiet
ABOUT $1.46 billion is expected to be expended to revamp Ajaokuta Steel Company, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, has said.
Adegbite, who spoke in an interactive session with the reporters in Lagos, yesterday, said $1 billion of the money would be coming from the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank), while the balance would be provided by the Russian Export Centre.
He said resuscitating the Mill was part of the agreement reached during a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, last year, saying Russian investors would help Nigeria re-launch the steel rolling complex built by the Soviets years ago.
Adegbite said the Federal Government was discussing with state governments to resolve the conflicts on mineral deposits scattered in nearly every state in the country, stating that some governors have misconstrued the existence of the minerals in their domain to mean that they have proprietary rights to the revenues accruing from the exports of the minerals.
He said the Federal Government was engaging such governors for them to know that it was better to let the funds from such minerals come into the federation account so they could benefit through the 13 per cent derivation fund, which some were already benefiting from.
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The minister said the Federal Government was addressing concerns of some states on the matter, adding that they could for now, participate only through corporate companies, which would seek licences from the Federal Government to go into minerals exploration.
“It is a work in progress,’’ he said, adding that the federal, states and local governments must work together to encourage smooth operation by investors in the sector.
Adegbite said Nigeria must prepare for the big players in the sector who would be coming in as the nation’s potential was being sold to the outside world.
He said all over the world, investors were aware of the potential of Nigeria in mining but wanted to be sure that when they come in, they will be able to get value for their money, saying the government has put in a lot of strategies to de-risk the sector, including the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP), to provide reliable geo-sciences information needed by investors to make the right mining investment decisions in Nigeria.
He said seven strategic minerals were being projected to encourage investors, with relevant data on them being made available, saying the ministry has issued two licences for refining gold in Mowe, Ogun and Abuja for sale anywhere in the world
Adegbite said a Canadian company in the Segolola Gold Project in Osun State was also working to start exporting gold from Nigeria by the first quarter of 2021, adding that the Federal Government has directive the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to also buy gold in Nigeria to serve as encouragement in the mining industry.