The federal government is now more determined to save $300 million annually as it considers outright ban on imported barite or imposition of tariff protection method for the local barite miners.
The government is also set to launch made-in-Nigeria barite this Thursday in Port-Harcourt.
Minister of mines and steel development, Olamilekan Adegbite, said this at a press briefing yesterday in Abuja.
According to the minister, the achievement is a major milestone along the roadmap created in 2016, adding that with the new development, importation of the mineral, which is so used in the oil industry, by government to the tune of $300 million every year, would stop forthwith.
He said: “Nigeria has been spending $300 million annually importing barite into the country; effectively this will stop.
“We will go to council, ask it to protect the local market and there are two ways of doing so: the council in its wisdom could outrightly ban importation of barite; on the other hand, it may choose a tariff protection method for the local barite.
“But Nigeria is ready to supply the Nigerian market with barite and also to export to other oil producing countries around us such as Ghana, South Africa, etc. not just to conserve the foreign exchange for Nigeria but also to earn it through exportation of barite.
“So we are coming up very shortly to the council with a downstream policy that will discourage exportation of barite ore; and by this, we are saying we must do some sort of beneficiation on any mineral ore in the country before exportation.”
“This will of course create opportunities for investors, who may not necessarily want to get involved in mining, but would want to start processing plants.
“On Thursday 28th October we will be launching a proudly made-in-Nigeria barite that is produced to API (America Petroleum Institute) standard. Already, we have 50 bags that have been produced and labelled proudly made in Nigeria. They are in Port Harcourt already for the launch.
“What we have done as a ministry since we came to office is to create linkages from the mines to the millers and from the millers to the baggers and of course to the market, and then we have the end product which is API standard.”
Adegbite noted that while making all the efforts towards achieving the feat, all stakeholders, including the local content monitoring body created by the federal government, were carried along in order to plug any loopholes that may create an avenue of excuse for those who might still want to export the barite ore for selfish gain.
He also revealed that in the interest of continuity an online portal has been created that connects all the players along the barite value chain together, adding that though government will gradually pull out for the market to thrive, the price of the barite is set well below that of the international market.
“I think we are about 50 per cent lower than that international price. This is just an offering to the market for starters; it is not meant to be a government thing, that is why the portal is set up, to run on its own, and to be managed by a consultant so that the miner gets his money from the portal after supply; the miller gets his own; the bag supplier gets his money; and government money in form of royalties is paid into government account,” he explained.
While delivering his opening remark earlier, Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, expressed optimism that with this development there are going to be a lot of changes ranging from creation of Jobs to preservation of foreign exchange and unlocking more business opportunities.