The Association of Miners and Processors of Barite (AMAPOB) have called on the Federal Government to ban the importation of Barite into the country as a strategy to ensure the development of local content and the country’s mining sector, adding that the ban on importation of cement has led to the growth and development of the country’s limestone resources, saying that the ban on cement importation was a major springboard that paved way for the success of Dangote Cement in the country.
“In order to fully realise the economic and social benefits of the African Mining Vision (AMV), the federal government of Nigeria must exercise the political will needed to ban the importation of Barite and also ensure that marketing and pricing of the commodity is effectively regulated as a strategy to ensure development of local content,” the Association of Miners and Processors of Barite (AMAPOB), said.
THE TRUTH reports that Barite, which exists in commercial quantities in Nigeria, is a solid mineral that is inevitable in the exploration of oil and gas.
The Acting Chairman, AMAPOB Board of Trustees who is also the Emir of Azara, Alh Dr. Kabiru Musa Ibrahim lamented the extent to which the development of Nigerian local content has been ignored saying: “Nigeria was an oil producing nation and we know that oil cannot be produced without barite, yet there was barite in Nigeria, but barite was still being imported to drill Nigerian oil.”
The royal father who made the call in Lafia, on Thursday, at the 2018 Congress of the Association of Miners and Processors of Barite, was emphatic that indigenous mining and processing companies in Nigeria have the capacity to produce the quantity and quality of barite needed in the exploration of oil, saying that Nigerian industrialists should consider the lucrative idea of mining and processing barites for export to other oil producing nations.
Assuring the federal government of the competence of indigenous miners to meet quality and quantity requirements of Barite needed by oil companies in the country, the royal father recalled that the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and AMAPOB synergised to enhance capacity of miners of Barite, adding that International Oil Companies would work on a design for mechanisation of mining of Barite. He further explained that in 2014, Chevron supported the initial take-off with contribution of bull dozer, excavator, wheel loader, a low bed two tipping trucks, Toyota Hilux van, Toyota Corolla and a compressor that aided in the mechanization process.
“We have been using the equipment and learning mechanisation in the process, and it has enhanced production,” he said, adding that the association continues to reach out to members in order to optimise production.
While reiterating the call for ban on importation of Barite, the Acting Chairman assured that indigenous miners have mastered the equipment. “We can now deploy and run them seamlessly,” he said, stating that mechanised mining and production of Barite will lead to large scale production that will meet the requirement of the oil industry.
While commending the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) for the role it played as a “formidable instrument in forging a wining path for a successful Barite and Bentonite development in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria,” he called on the board to address the need for pricing, saying that AMAPOB has confidence in the board to regulate the marketing of Barite in order to pave way for development of local content in such a way that it will encourage the growth of indigenous mining companies and the Nigerian economy.
The President of AMAPOB, Prince Steve Alao in his speech reiterated the call for information on the quantity of Barite needed in the oil and gas industry as a prelude for planning the mining and processing of barite as it will enable adherence to the local content Act which stipulates that sixty percent of Barite to be used must be sourced in Nigeria. He lamented that “from all indications, this law appears to be observed in breaches.”
According to the president, “AMAPOB holds the view that unbundling of Barite from drilling fluid contracts will remove the opaqueness around its sourcing and pricing as well as ensure that the IOCs take direct responsibility of Barite purchase used in their operation as a critical element of backward integration to aid Barite value chain development in Nigeria.”
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Engr. Simbi Wabote who was represented by Mr Salwudeen Mohammed agreed that the quest to ban importation of Barite is in the best interest of the country, he however emphasised the need for indigenous miners and processors of barite to sustain the production of high grade quality barite needed for use in the oil and gas industry.
While saying that NCDMB was established following the enactment of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Content Development Act in 2010, the Executive Secretary assured that the Board will continue to guide, monitor and supervise the development of Nigerian content in the oil and gas sector.
According to him, “NCDMB aims to strengthen the capacity of local suppliers to the oil and gas industry,” saying that the issue of standards will not be compromised by the board.
“NCDMB will continue to collaborate with AMAPOB and other stakeholders in its effort to achieve its mandate,” saying that the board deploys seminars, project-based trainings and direct intervention programs to enhance capacity of indigenous producers of Barite in the country.
The Executive Secretary further explained that in line with its mandate, the Board in 2012 facilitated a study on geophysical and geological investigation conducted by a Canadian firm. He said the investigation aimed at identifying locations where high grade barites are deposited, adding that the study also aims to ensure the production of high grade barites of not less than 4.0 specific gravity, in line with industry standards.
“Considering the critical gap that existed at the inception of the Board regarding local production and supply of minerals needed in the oil and gas industry, the Board launched capacity development initiatives in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.”
While noting that test analysis of Barite samples produced by AMAPOB satisfied the quality requirements of the oil and gas industry, having met the specific gravity of 4.0, he assured that the Board aims to ensure development of local content.
“In conclusion of the outcome of the test, and the established availability of commercial quantity of Barite in the country, NCDMB has concluded to enforce strict utilisation of locally produced Barite by oil and gas industry in the country,” he said.
The Executive Secretary however warned that AMAPOB must continue to uphold the standard by producing quality grade Barite such as the samples that earned it victory.
The Executive Secretary said: “If indigenous miners want to participate in supplies to the oil and gas sector, they must ensure that their methods and procedures satisfy the rules of standards and best practices in the industry.”
“AMAPOB must continue to produce in line with HSC requirement among others,” he said, a adding that all stages of production must be in line with global standards and best practices.
“Once this is sustained, Nigeria will have no reason to entertain importation of Barite,” he added.
A member of AMAPOB who is a stakeholder in the barite mining and processing chain, Dr Chris Anyakorah assured that indigenous miners and processors of Barite have the capacity to provide the barite needs of the Nigerian oil and gas industry, saying that his organisation supplied no less than ten thousand metric tons of Barite this year.