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The moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company has been allocated N6.2 billion of the N23.2 billion allocated to the Federal Ministry of Mining and Steel Development.
The parastatal got the highest allocation among the 10 agencies under the ministry with a budget of N4,272,797,371, as indicated in the proposed 2017 federal budget before the National Assembly.
Although not operational, Ajaokuta Steel has a management and some staff. Concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel was also earmarked the sum of N2.09 billon.
Minister of Mining and Steel Development, Dr. Fayemi Kayode, had assured that Federal Government would settle the litigations between it and Global Steel.
He said the company had been partly concessioned and that the process would be completed in 2017 for the company to be on its feet, running in full capacity of 5.2 million tonnes per year.
However, full detail was not given about the allocated sum for its concessioning by the ministry. The company, sitting on 24,000 hectares of land in Kogi State, has been unproductive for over four decades. The ministry’s allocation to the National Iron Ore Mining Project, Itakpe, Kogi State, stood at N1.7 billion; Nigerian Geological Survey Agency, NGSA, received N3.8 billion.
According to the ministry’s budget, N20 million was allocated for the amendment of Mining Laws, which the minister had earlier in his maiden ministerial media briefing said were to be built upon. This is expected to address the problems of illegal miners, nautical exploration of minerals, smuggling, which have resulted in several environmental pollution and deaths, revenue loss, robbery attacks and exploitation by money-bags who sponsor them at the detriment of their lives.
About N99 million was earmarked for Artisanal Mines and Registration Mineral Buying Centres. For many years now, sector operators have not been doing mineral sample analysis in the country, rather, they take them abroad to countries such as Australia, Canada, South Africa, Ghana, Namibia, and others despite the Geosciences laboratory at Kaduna, though it lacks the basic equipment to carry out mineral analysis. This made the ministry to allocate the sum of N330 million for equipping of National Geosciences Laboratory, Kaduna. This has been the expectation of operators in the sector, including potential investors.
However, most investors are yet to be convinced about Nigeria’s mining sector and see her as a mining country because she lacks reliable geosciences data and maps. In order to clear this doubt, the ministry has allocated N199.5m for the production of geological Maps and Completion of Database Upgrade.
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