Nigeria is spending $300 million on barite importation every year, according to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite.
Adegbite made the disclosure while receiving the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP) preliminary report on Friday in Abuja.
According to him, the imported barite is used in the oil and gas industry.
He said the Federal Government had concluded plans to launch its locally made barite on Oct. 28 as part of efforts to promote Nigeria barites and boost the economy.
Adegbite said that 50 bags of barites would be unveiled on the launch date to encourage barite miners and also woo investors to invest in barite.
According to the minister, the ministry is doing quality control on barites being produced and getting entrepreneurs to develop a robust bagging system that would meet international standards.
“This process is to satisfy our local industries, oil and gas and also export the product to our neibouring countries such as South Africa and Ghana that just discovered oil.
On the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP), report presented by two contractors handling gold and barite exploration to the ministry, the minister expressed satisfaction, saying that this had indicated that Nigeria was on the right mining track.
“Mining is all about data. We cannot do mining without data. With the exploration done by these contractors, we are de-risking the sector and we will be able to attract the right investment into the country.
NIMEP is a project, designed by the Federal Government to carry out an integrated exploration to de-risk the Nigerian mining sector and provide geosciences data to key into minerals needed for the fourth industrial revolution.
The objectives of NIMEP is to generate geosciences information in Greenfield and Brownfield settings through integrated exploration methodologies and it is aimed at spurring desired investment into the sector, to generate foreign exchange, among others.
Adegbite noted that the NIMEP project started by his predecessor, Gov. Kayode Fayemi, the then minister had noted that N15 billion was invested into exploration projects.
According to him, there is need to sustain the projects, noting that additional funds are required for further exploration on minerals.
Dr Oluwatoyin Akinlade, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, described the event as a big day for the sector as two contractors out of the five contractors handling the NIMEP project had submitted their reports.
Akinlade said that the ministry would present a robust NIMEP report to President Muhammadu Buhari as soon as the remaining contractors presented their reports, adding that this could attract more funding for the next phase of the project.
Akinlade promised adequate security to all the NIMEP contractors as they continue exploration, adding that the government was doing everything possible to safeguard lives.
Dr Abdulrazak Garba, Director-General of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency, said that the exploration contracts were awarded after passing through ministerial and Bureau for Public Procurement screening processes.
Garba said that NIMEP was a flagship effort of the the ministry in line with the diversification efforts of the government, aimed at rapidly generating exploration data.
He said that result obtained so far suggested new areas with anomalous concentrations which if confirmed to be sizeable had potential of becoming projects.
According to him, promotional efforts on the NIMEP have put the nation on the spotlight and all eyes are on Nigeria.
Mr Yunusa Mohammed, Head of Secretariat of NIMEP lauded the minister, permanent secretary and other members of staff of the ministry who made the project a success.