Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, has said that establishment of mining clusters in the six geopolitical zones of the country will boost the productivity of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (ASM), generate wealth and create employment opportunities for Nigerians.
The minister also stated that there are Federal Government intervention projects to cushion the adverse effects of COVID-19 and jumpstart the economy.
Adegbite, who made this know in Ugaga Council of Cross River State during the inspection of the ongoing work at Barite Cluster Processing Plant, explained that the establishment of Barite Cluster in Ugaga was necessitated by the abundance of Barite in the area.
The minister, in a statement issued by his Director of Press, Idowu Jokpeyibo, said: “The Barite Processing Plant is sited in Ugaga because of abundance of Barite in this location and the need to reduce logistics for the processing, as localisation of industries at the sources of raw materials minimises logistics overload.
“When completed, Barite would be processed in Ugaga and shipped to Port Harcourt selling point where buyers and exporters could buy them,” he said.
He also disclosed that the plant when completed would not be run by government but by experienced and knowledgeable experts with wherewithal to run it on behalf of the Federal Government.
Adegbite, who carried out the inspection alongside the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Oluwatoyin Akinlade, and the Director, ASM, Mr. Patrick Ojeka, said the factory, when operational, would increase the sector’s contribution to the nation’s GDP.
Earlier in her remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Akinlade called on Barite miners to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by this huge investment to enhance and improve productivity of Barite in the country. This, according to her, would save Nigeria foreign exchange currently being spent on Barite importation.