Lack of raw materials, infrastructure stifle Ajaokuta steel – Minister

Ajaokuta-Steel-Company-Nigeria13 June 2013, Abuja –  The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Musa Sada, has identified lack of infrastructure and raw materials as the two major challenges facing the Ajaokuta steel mills.

Sada stated this in Abuja while presenting a mid-term report on the progress and achievements of the mines and steel development ministry at the 2013 Ministerial Platform.

“The problem of Ajaokuta to make it really clear is two-fold; right at the inception of Ajaokuta, certain key issues were left outstanding, and these key issues are the issues of raw materials and infrastructure.

“There are attendant infrastructure requirement that must have to be attended to; currently anybody who is familiar with that will know that the Itakpe-Warri rail line is almost up and ready.

“That particular line was actually established to support steel production in that area. Another sort of infrastructure that needs to be in place is the infrastructure from the mine site to the factory itself; and these are the issues that this government is currently squarely addressing,’’ the minister said.

According to him, the present administration has recorded several achievements in the sector to grow the economy of the country.

Sada listed some of the achievements to include improved general awareness of the viability of the sector to both local and international entrepreneurs.

He explained that the ministry had discovered high grade of iron ore in Gidan Jaja in Zamfara, Lamba in Bauchi State, and Gidan Buzu in Yobe.

The minister said that the ministry had also discovered 10 new minerals, a development, which, he said, totaled the number of minerals in the country to 44.

He said only recently, the National Extractive Industry and Transparent Initiative, NEITI, singled out the Nigerian minerals sector as the most transparent industry in the whole world.

“This development has increased the revenue generation as shown by the recent NEITI Audit thus creating more jobs opportunities in the country.”

Sada said that the reforms introduced by the government had facilitated the establishment of 1154 new quarries, thereby taking the number of quarries in the country to 1,710.

He said that recently, 127 new small scale mines were discovered across the country thereby totaling the number of small scale mines in the country to 223.

Sada said that due to collaboration between the mines and steel development ministry and the ministry of trade and investment, no fewer than 150,000 new employment were targeted by them in 2013.

He said that international organisations such as CIDA, AusAid, DFID, and the ministry of land and urban development were offering various supports to the sector.

Sada said that the sector had facilitated the creation of 1,254,200 rural based jobs due to the operations of 1710 quarries and 223 small scale activities in the country.

The minister said that the sector had assisted in the production of 2.45 million tonnes of steel products by private steel operators in the economy.

According to him, due to viability of the sector, countries such as Canada, Australia and China have established working relationship with the Federal Government to develop the industry.

He listed inadequate funds, low level of information for investment, inadequate skilled manpower, illegal mining activities and lack of legal framework as some of the challenges faced by the sector.