Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, says Federal Government has proposed N2.3 trillion to boost the mining and other sectors of the economy in post COVID-19 rescue operations.
Adegbite said this in an interactive session with newsmen on Federal Government’s post COVID-19 plans for the solid mineral sector, on Monday in Abuja.
He said the ministry would get six billion naira from the total sum at the end of the day.
According to him, the ministry has lofty plans before the COVID-19 pandemic, which he has adversely affected the solid mineral sector considering its operations.
Adegbite said the development was not peculiar to the solid mineral sector as other sectors of the economy were equally affected by the pandemic.
“The pandemic for instance, has limited our ability to go forward on the Ajaokuta Steel project, we are four to five months behind schedule according to government’s plans to resuscitate the complex before the pandemic,” he said.
This, he said, was specifically so because Russian experts who supposed to come for the technical audit of the complex could not come because of the pandemic and the ban on flight operations.
He added that the idea was for the experts to come into the country and be hosted for 12 weeks within which they were expected to do a proper audit of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex.
He said this had been put on hold until the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ban on air travel was lifted.
“When this is lifted and we think it is safe enough, these experts will come into the country and we will continue where we stopped.
He added that the Ajaokuta Project Presidential Implementation Team (APPIT) was, however, still working but that the audit was very important to it.
According to him, the technical audit report is necessary to enable the APPIT know the cost implication.
He added that because of the complexity of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, online audit was not possible as people had to be physically present.
The minister added that government was, however, making efforts to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector.
“Now, government needs to come up with a response because the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected our sector, as a lot of miners could not go to work for obvious reasons.
“The consequence of this is that the output is zero and a lot of miners had been impoverished, this, however, is not peculiar to the sector, because it goes all round.
“What the President Mohammadu Buhari-led administration has decided to do is to face this head-on, and that is why we have come up with post COVID-19 rescue operations.
“In this, the government proposes to spend N2.3 trillion, this is what the government intends to inject into the economy to counter the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
The minister said that the money had been allotted to different sectors of the economy, including the solid mineral sector.
“A large chunk of the money had been allotted to the sector to help counter the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We intend to spend this fund and some other funds that are available to us to improve artisanal mining in the country and deepen our explorative projects,” Adegbite said.
He further said that the ministry was determined to take its road shows round the world to attract foreign investors into the country post COVD-19.
He gave assurance that government was working and putting measures in place to ensure that the country come up ahead of the COVID-19 curve to ensure that its effects are minimal.