The Federal Government has promised to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by January 2020, with a Russian company for the resuscitation of the multi-billion naira Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mills, located in Kogi State.
Disclosing this on Monday in Kaduna, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite, said the Federal Government meant business in bringing back on stream the steel rolling mill which have been down since the late President Shehu Shagari regime in the early 80s.
The Minister spoke during his facility tour of the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency (NRSMEA) in Kaduna State.
The Ajaokuta project was established on September 18, 1979, with formation of Ajaokuta Steel Co. Ltd, which was charged with the responsibility of constructing and operating the Ajaokuta Integrated Iron and Steel plant.
However, successive Federal administrations had taken measures to complete project since its inception without attaining the first phase of its installed capacity. Adegbite said once the Russian contractors to handle the resuscitation of the Steel Rolling Mill are identified, the MoU would be signed and work would commence in earnest.
According to him, funds for the resuscitation of the steel mill is already in place, adding that a committee has been set up to kick start the project.
To this end, the Minister directed the Director General of the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency (NRSMEA), Umar Hassan, to nominate two persons from the agency to be part of the committee, given its critical importance to the development of Ajaokuta project.
He said, “This agency is invaluable towards the resuscitation or development of Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mills. As you all know, the President is making sure that we resuscitate Ajaokuta Steel, tso that it can come back on stream. We have taken the first step. Talks are on with the original builders, a Russian company, and MoU drafts are being studied by both sides and hopefully sometimes in January 2020, we will probably sign the MOU and once the contractors are identified from the Russian side and since the funds are already in place, work will start. While we are still waiting as being promised for the two to three years agreement period to fire up Ajaokuta, there are a lot of activities that must start simultaneously.”
Earlier, in his address, the NSRMEA Director General, said the the agency which is saddled with the responsibility of mining and exploration in the country, was constrained by inadequate skills, lack of project vehicles, modelling softwares as well as dilapidated offices.