Bitumen project will change fortune of states – Fayemi

Nigeria has the second largest deposit of bitumen in the world, spanning approximately 120 kilometres in Ogun, Ondo, Lagos and Edo States.

Banking on this potential, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has urged state governments to key into the bitumen project of the Buhari administration, which he said can change the fortune of the states adding that the Federal Government would partner with state governments, investors and host communities to ensure a smooth coordination of the project and also to ensure that international best-practices were strictly adhered to.

The minister who said expression of interest by prospective investors in the country’s bitumen project would commence soon said emphasis would be placed on exploration and exploitation of the minerals, stressing that prospective investors would be encouraged to set up processing plants, to ensure value addition and job creation.

Speaking in Abeokuta, Ogun state Capital during his tour of mining sites in the state recently, Dr Fayemi said government was working with a renowned consulting firm, PriceWaterHouseCoopers, to actualise the commencement of the process by midyear.

The Minister said that the Federal Government would partner with states and not compete with them as a far as mining is concerned.

“We are working with PWC on the project. We want states to key into the project and Ogun is one of the states endowed with bitumen deposit, so we want states to take advantage of this.

The Minister who stated that about eighty per cent of asphaltic materials used for road construction in the country was still being imported in spite of the vast bitumen deposit, said government would focus on ensuring that serious investors who have proven work plan, financial capacity and are ready to build processing plants are given licenses.

The processing plants, according to Fayemi, would boost local production, which in turn would help Nigeria meet local demands and create job opportunities for her teeming youths”.

He urged state governments to set up special purpose vehicles or enter into joint ventures with renowned operators to invest in the bitumen project.

“The ministry would subject activities of the investors to proper monitoring in order to ensure compliance with laid down environmental and safety procedures and guidelines,” the minister added.

Restating government’s commitment to security of investment, Fayemi said the establishment of the Mines Police division by the Nigerian Police as well as the emergence of the Joint Task Force on Mines surveillance would put an end to criminal activities in the mines and ensure safety of lives and investments in the mines.

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