27 March 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – THE Federal Government says Nigeria would be producing 3 million tons per annum of liquid steel by the year 2015, in its determination for the minerals and metal sector to contribute meaningfully to the government’s transformation agenda.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Musa Mohammed Sada, disclosed this during the official commissioning of the African Foundries Limited billet mill plant in Ogijo, Ogun state.
The minister commissioned the plant, which is capable of producing 500,000 tonnes per annum of billet, as part of his official tour of the Southwest part of the country.
Sada pointed out that despite the role played by the metal sector in any industrialised economy, the Nigerian metal and minerals sector was yet to reach its full potential, particularly in the development and consumption of key metallic products such as iron, steel and aluminum.
He said the sector is faced with several challenges such as non-availability of requisite legal and regulatory frame work, non- completion of required infrastructure, roads, rails, waterways, mines, limited raw material sources, in -adequate power supply among others.
Arc. Sada reaffirmed the present administration’s quest for Nigeria to become one of the twenty most industrialized nations by the year 2020.
He said the Federal government would continue to partner with development partners in the sector for a viable option to move the minerals and metal sector forward.
According to him, “In view of the quest of the present administration to become one of the twenty most industrialized nations by the year 2020,it has become compelling to engage all stakeholders in the sector in search for a viable option to move the sector formed.”
He urged the development partners in the nation’s minerals and metal sector to take advantage and invest in the recently discovered iron ore deposits around the country to enable them integrate their facilities for more sustainable operations.
He said government was determined to “provide necessary infrastructure and industrial service clusters through collaboration with relevant ministries such as ministries of transport, power and works to promote policies aimed at catalyzing indigenous capacity expansion of steel production.”
He added that, “Our current target is to create an investment friendly environment towards the development of steel raw materials reserves of the nation to ease problem of raw materials, promote competitiveness of value added product so as to stimulate domestic and export demand of minerals and metal products.”
The minister commended the African Foundries Limited for the huge investment in the minerals and metal sector of the country, adding that, it was a clear demonstration of their faith and support for policies and programmes of the present administration.
While fielding questions from newsmen , the minister disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan had approved the establishment of board for the solid minerals development fund, he explained that the legal and regulatory frameworks in the nation’s minerals and metal sector has provisions for the establishment of the solid minerals development fund.
He added that international donors like the World Bank were also ready to give financial support to solve some of the militating problems facing the sector.
Arc. Sada said such funds would be useful in the provision of infrastructures such as roads, rails, water ways for easy movement of raw materials from mines sites to the end users and vice versa.
He also disclosed that many investors were indicating interests to invest in Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, noting that “the Russians that built it are interested in coming back but they cannot come and do anything now because of the court issue”.
The minister expressed hope that before the end of the year 2012, the legal crisis with Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited would be resolved.
In his own contribution, the governor of Ogun state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun who was represented by the state commissioner of commerce and industry,Otunba Abimbola Ashiru,expressed confidence that the land mark achievement would provide employment opportunities for thousands of teeming youths in the state.
While assuring mining operators in the state of a conducive business environment, he called on genuine investors to benefit from the investors friendly environment in the state.
Earlier in his address, the Group Chairman of the African Foundries Limited, Mr. Praduman Gupta said the company had so far invested N15 billion in the first phase to achieve the production capacity of 500,000 metric tons of steel billets per annum, adding that, the company would invest additional N20 billion for the establishment of a modern steel mill for the country to attain self sufficiency in the steel production.
Gupta said as of today Nigeria is the only country in the West Africa sub- region that has become self sufficient ,not only in recycling locally available steel (scraps) for the production of steel rods and bars but also in exporting.
The Group Chairman therefore appealed to the Federal government to provide conducive environment to develop the steel sector of the economy.