The Federal Government Thursday in Abuja said it can no longer deliver its promise to complete the Ajaokuta steel rolling mill in 2022, as earlier promised.
This came after it blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war for frustrating the project on several fronts.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, disclosed this to State House Correspondents during a Special Weekly Briefing coordinated by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to him, the federal government had before the pandemic successfully convinced Russia to complete the steel facility but could not proceed with the negotiations due to force-majeure.
The negotiations involved a $2m fee for a technical audit required to ascertain the state of the facility before works begin.
Adegbite further explained that the government moved to continue the earlier negotiations with Russia following the lockdown, but progress was stalled again due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
He, however, noted that the federal government would initiate irreversible processes to ensure the resumption and eventual completion of the steel facility beyond the Buhari regime.
Fielding a question about gold mining in Zamfara State, the Minister said the government had halted mining activities in the area because the conflict went beyond mining.
On the government’s effort against illegal mining, he said, “we try to nip them in the bud wherever they rear their head. With the community reporting to us, we have a quick intervention force. We can’t be proactive, it is too expensive to maintain. But we have a quick intervention force.
“If we hear any mining happening in any nook and cranny, we move in there and dislodge them. Those that are arrested, we confiscate their equipment and they are prosecuted.”
Meanwhile, Adegbite also revealed that the country has attained self-sufficiency in Barite production and would no longer need imports from October 2022.