From Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
The Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, has reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to ensure that the Minerals and Steel Sector becomes the mainstay of the Nigerian economy as enshrined in the present Administration’s diversification agenda.
The Minister stated this during a facility tour of African Natural Resources and Mines Limited Integrated Steel Plant, Jere, Gujeni Village, Kagarko Local Government of Kaduna State recently.
He revealed that the Ministry, in line with the President Muhammadu Buhari’s diversification agenda, has laid a solid foundation for the industrial development of the nation using the Steel Sector as the nation is awash with abundant Steel making raw materials. He assured that the Ministry is ready to support genuine investors with the necessary incentives using appropriate fiscal measures.
Dr Ogah noted that despite the fact that Nigeria is ranked 12th globally in terms of iron ore endowment, Nigerian crude steel production per capital is less than 10% with steel product demand of over 20 Million. He however, expressed optimism that the completion of the facility, being one of the biggest foreign direct investment to the sector, would be of immense benefit to the country, as it would help the Federal Government earn Foreign Reserve as well as provide employment for thousands of Nigerian youths.
He commended the Gupta brothers for investing in the Mining Sector and enjoined them to provide regular update to the Ministry to enable it support the completion of the facility, within the life span of this Administration.
In his address, Alok Gupta, GMD, African Industries Group, while stating that the site would process 5.4 million tonnes of iron ore and produce Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) for both domestic and export markets, said that a lesser dependent on oil revenue is key to sustainable economic development of the country.
Mr. Gupta disclosed that the 1st phase of the project, which is expected to be completed and commissioned in 2022, would provide employment for over 3,500 people.
He expressed appreciation to the Ministry for the tremendous support it has extended to it.
Speaking the Director General, National Steel Raw Material Exploration Agency, Dr. Umar Hassan, stated that with about 5.4 million tonnes of iron ore expected from the facility, it would be the hub of Ore Concentrates for the Industry.
In his remarks, the Village Chief, Mr. Philemon Auta thanked the Ministry, as well as the Natural Resources and Mines Limited for citing the project that would transform and provide employment for the people of his community.