The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development says it will soon receive support from the Federal Government proposed N2.3trn (two point three trillion Naira) to boost different sectors of the economy as a result of disruption caused by covid 19 pandemic.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite made this known during an interactive session with some selected journalists in Abuja.
Mr Adegbite who said the COVID- 19 pandemic has degraded the sector to the lowest ebb hinted that N6bn (Six billion Naira) has been earmarked to boost the sector.
He said the Federal Government is creating a gold ecosystem that will minimize the high rate of illegal gold mining and smuggling in the country.
The Minister said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that the government will not spend any money on Ajoakuta again, so Ajoakuta is making a business case which has been accepted, and once it is resuscitated and producing, it can pay back its loan.
“So the whole essence is that they will build and operate it for a while upon agreed terms, and at the end of the term when the loan is paid with interest, the plant will be reverted back to Nigeria, and at that time, a decision will be taken on who will manage it.”
He stressed that essentially the project on the collaboration with Ajoakuta is the build, use, operate and transfer with the Russian Government, noting President Buhari and President Vladimir Putin sat together at a bilateral meeting and agreed on a government-to-government cooperation to resuscitate Ajoakuta because the Russians built Ajoakuta when they were the Soviet Union in collaboration with the Ukrainians, and that is why we have gone back to them.
Mr. Adegbite explained that the whole essence is for the Russians to come here, access the plant and the job to be done, which is called a technical audit and nominate a contractor who will do the job.
The minister added: “The funding is coming from two sources, the Russian Export Centre, which is a Russian sort of Nexim Bank. They are providing $450million for the project, while the Afrexim bank will provide $1billion. So we have a total of $1.45billion but the whole essence is that the Russian technical experts will come and do the audit which will lead to them giving us an exact figure of how much it will cost to resuscitate Ajoakuta and the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO)
“The two are tied together and once this is done, of course there will be negotiations, a sum will be agreed and a contract will be formed and that is the basis on which we will proceed.” Adegbite explained.
The Minister of State Mines and Steel Development, said the Federal government is committed to uplifting the lives of Nigeria through the mining sector.