The economic diversification agenda of the Federal Government received a boost on Thursday as the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite explained that the Industrial Minerals Roadmap will optimize Nigeria’s industrial minerals to meet the standards of the manufacturing, industrial, and construction industry, while significantly reducing import dependency.
Adegbite, who made the disclosure at a Stakeholders Forum on Local Barite Development in Nigeria, in Abuja said the Road Map delineated seven key minerals for quick development of which barite is one.
He said the roadmap will not only strengthen the capacity of local miners and processors of barite, but will facilitate the realisation of the economic diversification agenda by creating jobs and wealth along the industrial minerals value chain.
He said in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision for a more diversified, inclusive, and sustainable economy, the federal Government initiated bold mining sector reforms that would deliver the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) in restoring growth, investing in our people and building a globally competitive economy.
While expressing concern over the economic implications of exporting barite to Nigeria, the minister said: “Evidence from our recent demand-gap analysis shows that out of the total value of Nigeria’s industrial minerals imports in 2016, barite represented 3.6 %,” stating that Nigeria spends millions of hard earned Dollars annually on importation of barite, a mineral with which Nigeria is richly endowed, especially in the northern part of the country.
“With each import of barite, we are shipping thousands of jobs from our country to other countries,” he lamented.
“This is why I am inspired to initiate a road map for the development of barite that would reverse this trend,” he said, adding that the federal government is creating a new framework that would promote the local production of barites that meets international acceptable standards.
The minister said in order to meet set targets, government has mapped out a development strategy towards creating a sustainable industry in Nigeria to support, regulate and monitor stakeholders along the Barite value chain.
According to the minister, the process will assist local companies with proven reserves that meet the industry standards to develop capacity and close the demand and supply gap existing in the country currently in the short term.
While saying that the long-term plan is to place a ban on the importation of Barite once the local market is satisfied and, export Barite to other African countries where oil and gas drilling activities are taking place. This, he said will lead to jobs creation and increase in the nation’s revenue base.
In his presentation, the Director General, Nigeria Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), Dr Abdurazaq Garba gave impetus to the minister’s position on the ability of industrial minerals roadmap to drive economic diversification through the ERGP of the administration stating that “work carried out by the Geological Survey of Nigeria in 1959 put the estimated resource size of barite at 41,000 tonnes for Benue trough deposits,” noting that recent exploration works show that Nigeria has more barite deposits.
The Director General explained that Nigeria’s mining sector is defined by a diversity of mineral resources, classified into five broad groups, stating that barite belongs to the industrial minerals group together with kaolin, gypsum, feldspar and limestone.
While saying that the NGSA currently deepening reforms, attracting new investors and collaborating with a wide network of parties and stakeholders to build an attractive mining ecosystem, he pointed out that a commercially important characteristic of barite is its relative high density of 4.5 g/cm2.
In Nigeria, Barite exists in not less than forty-eight locations across nine states.