Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency, Mr Michael Kolawole Ogunbiyi has reiterated the commitment of the agency to complete its ongoing Silica Sand, Bauxite, and Manganese exploration projects in line with stipulated schedules. The DG gave the assurance during a recent briefing at the agency’s headquarters in Kaduna, noting that some of the projects will be completed by the end of 2023.
Mr. Ogunbiyi underscored the importance of the minerals currently being targeted by the agency across the country, stating that having bankable data on the availability, location, quantity, and quality of steel raw materials and associated ores is crucial for the development of the steel industry in Nigeria.
“We are currently on the verge of completing our Igbokoda Silica Sand exploration project Block F1. We hope to deliver that by the end of the year. That project is very promising and we are sure that it’s going to prove to be economically beneficial to Nigeria. Silica sand is used as a material for glass making, abrasive, foundry, hydraulic fracturing applications, and several other industrial uses. Having proven substantial commercial reserves can trigger huge investments in local steel making and glass manufacturing.
“We are also working on other targets, such as Bauxite exploration on the Mambila Plateau, in Orin-Ekiti, and Oban Massif, as well as Inseam Coal Exploration. We also have our team working on Manganese in Aiyedayo, Mopa-Moro Local Government Area of Kogi State; as well as in Aking and Utuwang in Cross River state, among other locations. We have a broad-based approach to exploration, in preparation for the immense activities that are set to kick-off in the steel sector,” he said.
The DG further buttressed the importance of minerals like manganese and bauxite, which he said are crucial to the manufacture of steel, which can drive the country’s industrialisation. “Bauxite, for instance, is the principal ore of aluminium, which is a non-ferrous metal. With that, manufacturers can make kitchen utensils, window frames, cans, parts of aeroplanes, and several other electrical, transportation, and construction components and parts.
“As for manganese, it is an important alloy that helps to remove oxygen and sulphur when producing iron from iron ore, as well as for converting iron into steel. So, when you have your iron ore, for which we have recently established commercial resource in places like Tajimi (grading 25.2% Fe – 62.9% Fe, 0% P – 0.44% P, and 0% S – 0.23% S, and containing hematite, magnetite, and iron-bearing minerals); Nasko Libale, with a grade of 29.5% Fe – 38.5% Fe and 0.01% P – 0.59% P; as well as other previous locations like Itakpe, Agbado-Okudu, Gujeni, and parts of Yobe and Niger states, you need to add these other materials, along with coking coal, limestones, and others to make steel,” he added.
Further hailing President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the demerger of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to create a full-fledged Ministry of Steel Development, the DG expressed confidence in the capacity and experience of the Minister, Prince Shuaibu Abubakar Audu, to turn the sector around and drive policies and actions that will lead to the rapid industrialisation of Nigeria, giving the assurance that the agency will play its part in driving the Renewed Hope Agenda of Mr. President.