The Federal Government has said revealed that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration will no longer meet up with the earlier promise of completing the Ajaokuta Steel Company in 2022.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite disclosed this on Thursday while addressing State House correspondents during a Special Weekly Briefing in Abuja.
The Minister blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war for frustrating the project on several fronts.
According to him, the federal government had before the pandemic successfully convinced Russia to complete the steel facility but could not proceed with the negotiations due to force-majeure.
The negotiations involved a $2m fee for a technical audit required to ascertain the state of the facility before works begin.
Adegbite further explained that the government moved to continue the earlier negotiations with Russia following the lockdown, but progress was stalled again due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
He, however, noted that the federal government would initiate irreversible processes to ensure the resumption and eventual completion of the steel facility beyond the Buhari regime.
Fielding a question about gold mining in Zamfara State, the Minister said the government had halted mining activities in the area because the conflict went beyond mining.
On the government’s effort against illegal mining, he said, “we try to nip them in the bud wherever they rear their head. With the community reporting to us, we have a quick intervention force. We can’t be proactive, it is too expensive to maintain. But we have a quick intervention force.
“If we hear any mining happening in any nook and cranny, we move in there and dislodge them. Those that are arrested, we confiscate their equipment and they are prosecuted.”
Meanwhile, Adegbite also revealed that the country has attained self-sufficiency in Barite production and would no longer need imports from October 2022.