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Mining: Minister charges block winners to make Nigeria net exporter of Bitumen

Dr. Oladele Alake, Minister for Solid Minerals Development (middle) at the Meeting in Abuja, FCT Photo: State House

*Dr. Oladele Alake, Minister for Solid Minerals Development, inaugurates two high-powered committees for Bitumen development, urging concessionaires to comply with the terms of engagement and relevant sections of the Nigeria Mining Act, take cognisance of the host communities, and seek their cooperation

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

“With an estimated reserve of 42 billion barrels of Bitumen and the second largest deposit in the world, Nigeria has no business importing Bitumen.

“We should be a major net exporter to the rest of the world and we have no choice but to make this a reality,” said Dr. Oladele Alake, Honourable Minister for Solid Minerals Development.

Dr. Alake stated this while urging the 18 winners of the first round of Bitumen blocks bidding process to roll up their sleeves and work hard to develop Bitumen deposits in the country.

Speaking during a meeting with the concessionaires, Segun Tomori, Special Assistant to the Minister on Media, disclosed in a statement that Alake urged them to live up to expectations by complying with the terms of engagement and relevant sections of the mining Act while taking cognisance of the host communities and seeking their cooperation.

He also stated: “We want to know for instance as you move forward, how much of taxes you are paying, the royalties you are remitting, the local value addition that you are putting in place, the local employment generation or the multiplier effect and then the impact on your host communities.

“I will advise that you endeavour to engage your host communities and get their buy-in through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and other efforts you can make to ensure seamless operations which will culminate in maximum beneficiation for you as investors, the communities and government.”

Alake, while hinting at another round of bidding, urged the first round winners to post superlative performance, which would serve as encouragement to prospective investors.

He equally pledged the support of the Federal Government for the Bitumen investors.

According to him, their success holds immense potential for economic growth and prosperity, heralding diversification  of the economy.

In his remarks, Engr. Obadiah Nkom, Director-General of the Mining Cadastral Office (MCO), in Abuja, revealed that there have been two unsuccessful attempts at concessioning Nigeria’s Bitumen blocks in 2002 and 2008.

Engr. Nkom noted that following the latest successful bidding process, the MCO granted a total of 34 bitumen licences, comprising 18 exploration licences and  16 mining licences.

The approval was granted after the Minister’s approval and a final endorsement by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Inauguration of 2 high-powered Bitumen committees

In a significantly related development, Dr. Alake inaugurated two high-powered committees for the development of Bitumen.

The first is a ministerial committee chaired by MCO DG, Engr. Nkom and a Technical Committee to monitor and evaluate Bitumen activities chaired by the Director, Mines Inspectorate of the Ministry, Engr. Imam Ganiyu.

The statement noted the inauguration of these committees marked a pivotal moment in Nigeria’s journey towards harnessing its vast Bitumen resources.

The committees’ Terms of Reference (ToR) include making recommendations that will sanitise the Bitumen production environment; ensure that everything pertaining to operations in the sector is above-board; advise government on how to avoid the hiccups that plagued the oil industry among others.

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