Nigeria government commissions solid minerals cluster project in Cross River in 6 months

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Cross River Deputy Governor, Ivara Esu, left, speaks with Minister Uchechukwu Ogah after the ceremony

By Akpan David, Calabar

The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu S. Ogah has said that the artisanal and small-scale mining and processing cluster project to be established in Cross River State will kick off immediately and would become functional in about six months.

He disclosed this in Calabar when the state deputy governor, Professor Ivara Ejemot Esu on behalf of the state governor, Professor Ben Ayade handed over legal documents for the five hectares of land meant for the cluster project.

The minister said the federal government is determined to have the project up and running so that it will also stop the oil sector from importing the barite minerals, boost mining processing and production and increase employment.

The handing and taking over of the landed property for the project was held inside the council chamber of the state government.

Prof Esu had commended the federal government for choosing to site the cluster project in the state, saying the choice was not wrong because they have about the largest deposits of assorted solid minerals in the state.
He said they would be happier to give out even additional hectares of land for the project and would also play their own part effectively since they will be the major beneficiary of the project.

“As we no longer have oil to benefit from the 13% derivation revenue, we will support this cluster project holistically since we have larger deposits of these natural resources such as the barite, mines, limestone and others. It will benefit our state more. We therefore commend the federal government for this laudable initiative, and are pleased to have over all the legal documents for the expanse of land requested.”

Speaking earlier, the minister of state for mines and steel Ddevelopment, Dr Ogah said “The development of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mineral Processing cluster project is an initiative of the Federal Government in swift response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that has been ravaging the world over.

“In order to curtail the devasting effect
of the pandemic on means of livelihoods of Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the implementation of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan headed by His Excellency, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. This plan for the minerals sector entails the development of the Artisanal and Small- Scale Mineral processing clusters across the six geopolitical zones of the country.”

The minister said that the goal of the project is to spur and ensure sustainable growth of socio-economic activities across the subeconomic sectors of the nation.

He maintained that the project will come on stream in six months after the groundbreaking ceremony.

According to him, in the minerals sector, we are focusing on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) activities which consists
over 90% of the mining industry in Nigeria.

He said the project is one that will benefits the country largely in the areas of employment, boosting of mining business, fast track development of downstream mineral value chain and processing operations amongst others.

He said that the choice of the state for the siting of the cluster project for Barite value chain development is predicated on the fact that she is endowed with large commercial deposits of the mineral.

“Barite deposit occurrences in Cross-River State are mainly around Obubra through to Yala Local Government Area which informed the siting of the cluster project in
Yala.

“Under the project, the Federal Government intends to embark on infrastructural development within the cluster area; namely, a barite processing Plant, Mining equipment leasing bay, training centre, warehouse, office complex amongst others amenities.

Upon completion, the Cluster will provide common facilities that will enable easy formalization of the artisanal mining activities in barite supply chain in the catchment areas and avail the operators the platform for value addition and access to reliable mineral market. It is important to
emphasise that the cluster project for barite value chain development
will mark the dawn of the present Administration’s effort to end barite
importation especially in the oil/gas industry.”

The minister thanked the Governor of for keying into the programme without hesitation, adding that the collaboration
with the Federal Government and support in providing a home for the cluster project for the South – South Geo-Political Zone underscores the governor’s focused leadership centred on industrialisation of the state.

He called on the mining stakeholders in the South-South States to continuously provide support and input to ensure that the project is successfully accomplished to yield the desired results for the benefit of all stakeholders.

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