The Federal Government says it will find ways of convincing oil companies in the country to patronise local producers of barite to reduce importation of the product.
Dr Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, gave the assurance to the Association of Miners and Processors of Barite (AMAPOB), Benue state chapter during a town hall meeting in Benue as part of his nationwide tour.
Fayemi said that he would meet with the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu to look into the issue why the local oil companies refused to patronise the local barite producers but preferred to import the products.
“With what the association has shown to me and the quality of the local barite which is 4.3 specification gravity, which is international specification, there is no reason why they must refused to buy Nigeria barite as a source for oil drilling.
” We will also meet with the International Oil Company (IOC) in Nigeria to know the specification standard of barite they want and the quantity,” he said.
He urged the association to provide guarantee that it would make the product available at all time to the oil companies if they accepted to patronise local product.
“This issue must be resolved now before we intervene because oil companies must continuously use the product, this is critical to them and they can not take the risk of any shortage,” he said.
The minister said Mr President has launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, adding that the plan is directly of interest to barite producers.
Fayemi said the target of the plan on mining sector is processing and import substitution which are major keys that the ministry and stakeholders should achieve together to move the sector forward.
He urged the association to bring enough prove as it claimed that it has enough barite reserve, so that the ministry can liaise with the Minister of Works to fix the roads leading to their sites.
He said that the ministry would also convince the transport minister to construct rail line to move their products.
Earlier, the First Vice President, AMAPOB, Mike Mku, told the minister that the barite being exploited in Nigeria were of the international standard and in abundance to sustain the oil companies.
He said that oil companies initially were claiming that Nigeria barite was of low quality and do not have enough to sustain their productions, but that has been cleared.
“We want the minister to intervene on our behalf because we have enough barite on ground but no market.
” Barite was under the import prohibited list of customs before past administrations removed it.
“This is why they now have access to import barite and this must be stopped for us to have market locally.
He also appealed to the minister to assist the association to access fund to process Nigeria’s abundant barite deposit in Benue, Nasarawa, Cross-River, Plateau among others.
The two ministers of the sector had commenced a nationwide tour to all mine sites to build up stakeholders confidence, get feedback from stakeholders, identify challenges and proffer solution, among others.
The ministers had visited Kaduna, Lagos, Ogun, Nasarawa and Benue states. (NAN)