27 February 2015, Abuja – The Eta Zuma Group, which acquired the Jos Steel Rolling Mill from the Federal Government in 2005, has said that it will spend $300m (about N60bn) to rehabilitate the steel production plant.
The Group Managing Director, Eta Zuma of the company, Dr. Innocent Ezuma, disclosed this when the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Mohammed Sada, led top officials of ministry to the headquarters of the company in Abuja on Thursday.
Ezuma said upon the full rehabilitation of the plant, 15,000 direct jobs would be created as well as many other benefits to the economy, including providing a solid base for the nation’s industrialisation efforts.
He listed power and transportation as the major obstacles that had hindered the rehabilitation of the plant, adding that $10m worth of billets to be used for steel production had been lying idle for a long time.
To solve the problem of inadequate power supply for uninterrupted operation of the steel mill, Ezuma said the company planned to install four units of 20 Megawatts of coal-fired power plants, but added that a rail track needed to be connected to the group’s coal mine in Itobe, Kogi State.
He said given the huge financial outlay required for the full operation of the company, some assistance was required from the government, including the construction of a rail track from Ankpa to Oturkpo to link the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail track.
Ezuma also requested for a five-year import waiver to enable the company generate some of the funds required for steel development as well as access to the Solid Minerals Development Fund.
The Eta Zuma boss listed meeting the domestic coal needs of the nation and conserving foreign exchange as two of the strategic objectives of the company.
The group was recently awarded four licences by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission for the production of 1,200MW of electricity from coal-fired power plants.
Responding, Sada expressed gratitude to the group for its confidence in the nation’s economy and pledged government’s support to enable it realise its targets.
He said, “The decision of the present administration to transform this sector into a private sector-driven sector is in line with global best practices. We have been making the sector comfortable enough for the private sector to operate.
“What we are seeing in this place today is purely Nigerian efforts. Foreign investors can come and go, but our own investors are always here.
“The mineral and mining sector will be the livewire of the economy in the shortest period of time. We should not allow foreigners to come and take control of it.”
The minister urged the company to make a formal presentation of the assistance it required from the government, adding that efforts had been made to institutionalise decision-making process in the sector.