In its commitment to curb the high rate of illegal mining activities in the South-South geopolitical zone of the country, the Federal government of Nigeria has commissioned the long-awaited Barite Processing Plant at Ugaga, Yala Local Government Area, of Cross River State.
This was disclosed in a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Funmi Imuetinyan.
According to the statement, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, stated during the official commissioning of the structure, that the
newly launched plant will create over twenty thousand jobs, along the mining value chain in the South-South zone area of Nigeria.
The minister stated that the plant would improve revenue generation of the ASM subsector operators and government, adding that the project will increase the rate and exports of value-added products, and services, while also attracting foreign and local investments.
“It is instructive to know that Barite Processing Plant is designed with facilities to beneficiate, test, certify, document, and effect necessary payments for royalties and processing fees required to support local exploitation of oil and the international market.
“The facility houses state-of-the-art barite processing machinery and equipment, over 30 stalls, an administrative block, a training section, an MMSD office, stable power supply.
“It may also interest you to know, that the Ministry of Mines and Steel under my leadership and Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, as a matter of Strategy, prioritized the ASM to stem incessant illegalities that have fraught the subsector in Nigeria by initiating and supporting biometric data capturing of all registered artisanal and small-scale miners across the country, under the formalization and mainstreaming of ASM operators.
“We are presently creating an ecosystem to minimize the high rate of illegal mining and smuggling, increase Government’s revenue from the resource, create jobs, and improve environmental and social stewardship,” he said.
Mr Adegbite however, expressed regret in the informal trading of unprocessed barite, which he said, leads to revenue and job losses.”
However, he stressed that the landmark project is in line with the current administration’s resolve to anchor its economic diversification agenda on two key sectors of Mining and Agriculture,
Also speaking at the event, was the Permanent Secretary of Mines and Steel, Dr Oluwatoyin Akinlade, who explained that the aim of the projects in each geopolitical zone, is to develop and create more jobs for people across the zones.
“Six projects were conceptualized, out of which a Barite Ore Processing Plant was designated for Ugaga in Cross River State.
“Barite is a “utility mineral” that can be used for various purposes ranging from crude oil drilling to pharmaceuticals. we are indeed blessed as a people.
“To the glory of God, the project has been completed and we are here today to witness its commissioning.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, let me point out at this juncture, that the facility here, will be processing barite to the International API standard, making it suitable for export to other parts of the world in other to generate foreign exchange. It is a laudable project,” she stated.