Mines and steel minister inaugurates N1b barite processing plant in Cross River
Olamilekan Adegbite, the minister of mines and steel development, has said that Nigeria will no longer spend over $300 million every year to import processed barite for the oil sector.
The Minister disclosed this in the Ugaga community of Yala Local Government Area of Cross River State where the federal government has established a N1 billion barite processing plant where the natural resource is found in vast quantities.
Speaking when he commissioned the plant, the minister said before now the country was exporting the raw barite ore which would be processed abroad and was therefore losing lots of value because it was not processed locally.
He said this encouraged his ministry to launch the project of establishing the barite processing plant in November 2021 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The minister said further that Nigeria has a 4.8 gravity standard of barite in vast quantities which is far higher than the 4.2 found elsewhere.
“Vast quantities of Barite ore resource is found in parts of northern Cross River, especially in Yala LGA which is the reason the federal government decided to establish the processing plant in the state to help both artisanal commercial miners process it for export and for the oil industry.
He explained that 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 State and its closeness to Port Harcourt, Rivers State where the processed barites are required for oil exploration in line with local content and value addition policy in Nigeria.
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He disclosed that South-South Nigeria hosts rich deposits of barite.
The Minister said that 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”, he said.
He said the plant is part of the Buhari administration policy to encourage diversification of the national economic base, which is anchored on two key sectors of Mining and Agriculture.
According to the Minister, the commissioning has provided an opportunity to highlight the efforts of President Buhari to open some of the potentials available in the Mining Sector to serve as an alternative revenue source.
He added that 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.
He disclosed that no fewer than 20,000 jobs would be created along the barite mining value chain in the South-South Zone cluster, adding that there will be the emergence of subsidiary and service-oriented companies which will boost further economic activities
In her remarks, the permanent secretary in the ministry, Oluwatoyin Akinlade said the outcome of the barite ore processing Plant here in Ugaga was part of the measures by the Buhari regime to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that the facility will process barite to the International API standards for export to other parts of the world in order to generate foreign exchange.
Also speaking, the Director of the Artisanal and small-scale department, Yunusa Mohammed said artisanal barite miners in parts of northern Cross River State in their clusters will now process the resource at the plant for greater wealth addition.
He said in due time, there will be an expansion of the local economy through the presence of the plant.
The traditional head of Ugaga kingdom, HRH Ogamode Ogar Ipuole commended the federal government and requested for employment of his subjects in the plant to reduce the high rate of unemployment.
Permanent Secretary in the state ministry of Mines, Expressed happiness for the situation of the plant as employment would be created.
Dan Obong, one of the 20 beneficiaries of grants and donations of artisanal equipment from the ministry, for the extractions of barite, commended the federal government for easing their tasks.