Bauchi State Government is set to collaborate with the other five states of the North East region on the cluster through the Artisanal and Small- scale Mining (ASM) Department, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, amid creating an enabling environment by providing security, infrastructure such as roads, electricity and water supply for the optimum operations of the cluster.
Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, who was represented by the secretary to the state government, Barrister Ibrahim Kashim on Tuesday inaugurated the newly established Kaolin Ore Processing Plant in Gwaram community of Alkaleri Local Government Area of the state, with an assurance to work with the federal government to advance the operational effectiveness of the project.
The governor said that the state government is determined and ready to continue to work with Miners Association of Nigeria, Kaolin Millers Association, Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMC) and all other stakeholders on how to improve the value chain of the raw material.
He added that said his administration had established the Ministry of Natural Resources in 2020 with the aim of complimenting the Federal Government’s effort in streamlining the activities of solid mineral resources in addition to repositioning the Bauchi Mining and Exploration Limited (BAMSEL).
According to him, so far, the Bauchi Mining and Exploration Limited has acquired 17 licenses comprising 9 exploration licenses, 7 small scale mining leases and 1 reconnaissance survey permit, which makes it rank top in the North-East region.
“I am delighted to be part of this important and most auspicious occasion, which is essentially a journey of promises and fulfillments. What we are witnessing today started with the recommendations by the Economic Sustainability Plan Committee of the Federal Government in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 Pandemic.
“The Federal Government had accordingly requested the Bauchi State Government for a piece of land for the setting up of the Artisanal and Small- scale Mining (ASM) Cluster and the Need Assessment for the North-East geopolitical zone. This noble objective has been achieved as we gather here today to commission the Kaolin Ore Processing Plant.
“Kaolin being an important raw material with a wider spectrum of industrial applications is abundant in more than five local government areas in Bauchi State and indeed the North-East geopolitical zone. It is estimated that annual national demand for Kaolin stands at 350,000 metric tons while local production is only 25,000 metric tons, leaving a huge deficit annually.
“This deficit will definitely create a humungous capital flight due to importation. This cluster is a special type being earmarked for an index Pharmaceutical Ingredient (IPL). There is no doubt that the ASM Cluster will help North-East and Nigeria at large to achieve the long desired national policy on local content, substitution and deletion of mineral resources.
“Let me inform the Minister of Mines and Steel Development that we will continue to look for the assistance of his Ministry in the areas of synergy, transparency, accountability and revenue generation from Solid Minerals. In Bauchi State, there are 341 licenses acquired by operators and/or speculators. These comprise of 152 Exploration Licenses, 17 Mining Leases, 55 Quarry Leases, and 117 Small Scale Mining Leases.
“The activities from exploration to marketing of these negligible resources are by far very important considering the number of titles acquired in the State. I would therefore like to call on the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to strictly enforce the policy on ‘Use it or Lose it’ on dormant and speculated licenses. On the other hand, considering the quantum of mining and mineral activities in Bauchi State, we want to see the enhancement of a royalty that truly reflects these activities.
“The Minister may wish to be reminded that the State has been working round the clock in developing the first mining policy in the North-East Geopolitical zone, a development that has been acknowledged and blessed by your Ministry, to our greatest dismay, however, this effort is being sabotaged by the Federal Mines Officer in the State due to his non-cooperation.”
On his part, Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, explained that the Bauchi Kaolin Ore Processing plant is to process Kaolin needed for the use of the pharmaceutical industry in the country stressing that efforts should be made to embark on dry processing for the paint and other industries.