From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uchechukwu Ogah, on Tuesday, expressed happiness over progress made so far in the development of metal industry in Kaduna State.
Ogah, who was at the site of the factory on an official tour at Gujeni community in Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State, commended the factory owners for employing over 10,000 workers in the four locations of the factory in the country, including Kaduna.
‘My visit today (Tuesday) is essentially to see the progress of work done so far and commend the Chairman, Raj Gupta, Group Managing Director, Alok Gupta and the entire management and staff of African Natural Resources and Mines Limited for the belief in the Nigerian Metals Industry over the past few years,’ he said.
‘Your group facilities located in Lagos, Ogun, Abuja and now Kaduna State are testaments of your commitment to the development of Nigeria’s Metal Sector with a total workforce of over 10,000 Nigerians. Steel, an alloy of Iron and Carbon is adjudged the world most important engineering and construction material with its application covering almost every field of human endeavour.
‘It was in realisation of the above that our founding fathers commenced the iron and steel development as a strategic industry from 1958 until 2005 when privatisation policy of the Federal Government allowed the active private sector participation.
‘The privatisation policy transformed the role of government from owner/operator to administrator cum regulator with emphasis on creating enabling environment for private investments in the sector to thrive. Despite the fact that Nigeria is ranked as 12th globally in terms of iron ore endowment, the Nigerian steel industry is dominated by induction furnace operations using metal scraps, rolling mills using imported billets, foundry operations etc with our two main integrated steel plants at Ajaokuta and Delta not in commercial operation.
‘The above scenario left the Nigerian Crude Steel Production per capita at less than 10% with Steel product demand of over 20 million tonnes per annum. All the above indices show the abundant opportunities for investment in the sector for both local demand and export of finished products.The Federal Government of Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has decided to lay a solid foundation for the industrial development of the nation using the steel sector because of the abundant steel making raw materials in Nigeria.
‘The Federal Government through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development is ready to support genuine investors with the necessary incentives using appropriate fiscal measures. We have also embarked on the generation of detailed geoscience data especially Iron Ore through the NIMEP project and major investors like African Natural Resources and Mines Limited would be considered during the auctioning of the mineral blocks.
‘Our infrastructural projects like the Ajaokuta – Abuja – Kano Natural Gas, the linking of the Warri – Itakpe rail line to connect Abuja – Kaduna standard guage and the Sealink Project for the use of the inland water ways etc would also support your project in terms of logistics and energy supply.
‘The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development expects regular updates on the project to enable us provide necessary support as may be required for the timely completion of the Integrated Steel Project in Kaduna State of Nigeria.It is our expectation that upon completion of the project, employment would be generated for our teeming youths, technology transferred to Nigerians, adequate royalties paid for raw materials consumed, necessary taxes paid to the appropriate authorities and construction materials made available to substitute imported ones,’ he stated.