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Nigeria: Barite Processing Plant in C’river Game Changer for Mining, Oil Sectors – Adegbite

Abuja — …to create 20,000 jobs along barite mining value chain

THE Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite, has expressed confidence that the commissioning of the Barite Processing Plant in Ugaga, Cross River State, is a game changer for the solid minerals and oil sectors of the economy.

Adegbite made this statement during the commissioning of the Barite Processing Plant in Ugaga, Cross River State on Thursday.

He expressed optimism that the plant has all it takes to stop importation of Barite into the country by oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region over the years.

He also explained that the Barite Processing Plant was one of the cluster projects the Ministry embarked upon as supported by President Muhammadu Buhari to diversify the economy.

According to him, the choice of Ugaga, as a location for the barite processing plant is predicated on its possession of rich deposits of barite among the South South states and its closeness to Port Harcourt, Rivers state where the processed barites are demanded for oil exploration in line with local content and value addition policy in Nigeria.

“The South South geopolitical zone is known to host rich deposits of barite. With the location of the barite processing plant in Ugaga, artisanal and small-scale barite miners within the zone can easily have access to the plant for their barite processing before further transportation and sales.

“The informal trading of unprocessed barite leads to revenue and job losses. It is, therefore, in a bid to develop the downstream sector of the mining industry to improve product pricing, create jobs, improve revenue generation and attract foreign markets to Nigeria that the barite processing plant was established.

“The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development had designed six strategic ASM Cluster Projects in the six geopolitical zones as a means to harness the potentials of the over 3 million ASM operators in the country. The Barite Processing Plant in Ugaga for the South South Zone is one of these projects.

“These landmark projects are to create an enabling environment to support the Mining Industry through the formalization of the ASM Sub-sector as a major driver of the key growth parameters to engender the development of the Mining Sector since over 90% of the Mining activities in the country could safely be said to be ASM driven.

“The concept of the Barite Processing Plant was a crafted policy to spur job creation and capacity development of barite miners in Cross River State and environs, through the Economic Growth and Sustainability Plan of the Federal Government.

“It is instructive to know that Barite Processing Plant is designed with facilities to beneficiate, test, certify, document, effect necessary payments for royalties and processing fees required to support local exploitation of oil and the international market.

“The facility houses state-of-the-art barite processing machineries and equipment, over 30 stalls, administrative block, training section, MMSD office, stable power supply, and other.”

He also explained that, “This project houses several Federal Government initiatives geared towards formalizing the ASM activities, curbing the exploitation of artisanal and small-scale barite miners as well as development of the capacities of our teaming youths to actively participate in downstream barite value chain.

“It will interest you to note that this project is designed based on the cluster concept which has become a global trend in industrial development to promote shared amenities, agglomeration of similar producers, customers, and others based on geographical proximity or access to complementary expertise to promote efficiency and increase specialization and production.

“The plant will create and generate sustainable competitive advantages in the following key areas: Development of downstream barite mining industries; Increasing the level of competitive inputs (such as services, machinery and equipment); Increasing the level of employment in all business activities related to the barite mining cluster.

“Increasing the rate and exports of value-added products and services & attracting foreign and local investments; Generating new start-up companies; Increasing trade performance & generating higher corporate profits; and Improving mineral production output and ease of mining sector regulation and administration. Creation of more jobs through emergence of service industries because of increase cluster activities.

Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mine and Steel Development, Dr Dr Oluwatoyin Akinlade, in a remark, described the commissioning of the Barite Ore Processing Plant in Ugaga, Cross River State as epoch-making and historical, the commissioning of a Barite Ore Processing Plant here in Ugaga.

Akinlade also stressed that the facility will go a long way to reduce barite importation, which had negatively impacted the economy

“The facility here will be processing barite to the International API standard, making it suitable for export to other parts of the world in other to generate foreign exchange. It is a laudable project”, she said.

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