The federal government of Nigeria has revealed through the ministry of Mines and steel development that it will begin the auctioning of bitumen blocks in Nigeria during the third quarter of 2021. Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of mines and steel development, made the announcement in a statement issued by Ayodeji Adeyemi, his media aide, on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to the statement, the federal minister while responding to enquiries from John Donnelly, the Australian High Commissioner, during his visit to the ministry, revealed that the ministry is collating data on some bitumen fields across the country as it is working towards raising the quality of locally produced barite to the standard of the American Petroleum Institute (API).
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“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 auctions in the third quarter. The ministry had contracted a consultant to help raise the 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.
“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 barites 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,” the minister revealed.
Adegbite further stated that the Ajaokuta steel plant will be placed to improve operations in the mining sector as the plant will lead the development of 13 other minerals required in the production of steel, but was, however, brought to a slow operation due to the global health pandemic.
Meanwhile, Donnelly, the Australian High Commissioner, in his remarks during the visits stated that Australia is willing to exercise the needed patience in helping Nigeria its mining sector.
“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,” Donnelly said.
Frontpage September 12, 2019