A whopping N432bn ($1.2 billion) is needed for the total rehabilitation, completion and commissioning of the Ajaokuta Steel Company limited.
Of the total sum required, $513 million is for rehabilitation, while $687 million is to be expended for balance of external infrastructure.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who disclosed this yesterday noted however that efforts are on top gear to complete the plant.
Speaking when he appeared before the Senate and House of Representatives joint committee on power, steel development and metallurgy for the 2018 budget defence of the ministry, Fayemi said illegal mining is still a big issue in the country.
He explained however that the ministry is working with state governments and other stakeholders to eliminate it and also make sure that offenders are being made to face the wrath of the law.
The minister added that the federal government has put in place measures to provide tools and equipment for artisan miners through the Bank of Industry.
LEADERSHIP reports that the Ajaokuta steel company is being developed in three phases, with the first phase of 1.3 million tonnes steel production reaching about 98 per cent completion before the contract was terminated in 1996.
It was revealed during the budget defence that the federal government was compelled to stop further capital development on the plant due to lack of funds and the political will to implement it.
However, the sole administrator of the company, Sumaila Abdul-Akaba, while fielding questions from lawmakers, said following the technical audit of the plant in 2010, it was found that if $1.2 billion is released, it would make the plant operational.
According him, among other problems, what is also needed is to sort out issues that emanated from the London Court of Arbitration.
He insisted that once this is achieved, a 55 mega watts plant of the company will commence operation in April 2018.
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