Barite Plant in Cross River is capable to reform the mining and oil industries – Adegbite
Barite Plant in Cross River is capable to reform the mining and oil industries – Adegbite. During the commissioning ceremony held on Thursday, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite, expressed his confidence in the potential of the Barite Processing Plant in Ugaga, Cross River State, to make a significant impact on the solid minerals and oil sectors of the economy. The plant has now been commissioned.
The Ministry undertook the Barite Processing Plant project as part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to diversify the economy. Uganda was selected as the location for the plant due to its abundant barite deposits in the South-South states and its proximity to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where processed barites are needed for oil exploration in line with Nigeria’s local content and value addition policy.
The South-South geopolitical zone is well-known for its abundant barite deposits, and locating the processing plant in Ugaga will enable artisanal and small-scale barite miners in the area to easily process their barite before transporting and selling it.
The establishment of the barite processing plant aims to develop the downstream sector of the mining industry, enhance product pricing, create jobs, improve revenue generation, and attract foreign markets to Nigeria, as the informal trading of unprocessed barite has led to revenue and job losses.
The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has taken steps to tap into the potential of the over 3 million ASM operators in the country. They have developed six strategic ASM Cluster Projects across the six geopolitical zones, including the Barite Processing Plant in Uganda, which is situated in the South-South Zone.
The primary objective of these ambitious projects is to create a conducive environment for the mining industry by formalizing the ASM sub-sector. This sub-sector drives over 90% of mining activities in the country and contributes significantly to the growth of the mining sector.
The Barite Processing Plant is one of the significant projects aimed at achieving the government’s Economic Growth and Sustainability Plan. It seeks to boost job creation and capacity development among barite miners in Cross River State and surrounding areas. The facility is well-equipped with modern machinery and equipment for barite processing. It also includes over 30 stalls, administrative offices, training facilities, and a stable power supply.
The main purpose of the Barite Processing Plant is to enable the testing, certification, documentation, and payment of royalties and processing fees required to support the local exploitation of oil and the international market. Additionally, the project includes several Federal Government initiatives aimed at formalizing ASM activities, curbing the exploitation of artisanal and small-scale barite miners, and developing the capacities of young people to participate actively in the downstream barite value chain.
The project is based on the cluster concept, which is a popular trend in industrial development worldwide. This approach fosters shared amenities, similar producers, customers, and other businesses based on geographic proximity or access to complementary expertise, thus increasing efficiency, specialization, and production.
The plant’s objective is to establish sustainable competitive advantages across several areas, such as developing downstream barite mining industries, increasing competitive inputs, employment levels, and exports of value-added products and services, attracting foreign and local investments, generating new start-up companies, improving trade performance and corporate profits, and enhancing mineral production output while streamlining mining sector regulation and administration. This increased cluster activity is anticipated to lead to the emergence of service industries and job creation.
The commissioning of the Barite Ore Processing Plant in Ugaga, Cross River State is deemed an epoch-making and historical event by Dr. Oluwatoyin Akinlade, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mine and Steel Development. She highlighted that the facility’s operation would significantly reduce the adverse effects of barite imports on the economy.
Moreover, Akinlade praised the project’s ability to process barite to meet the International API standard, which would enable exporting the product to other regions worldwide, creating foreign exchange opportunities.
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