A Technical Audit Team from Russia is expected to embark on visitation to the country’s Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) and National Iron Ore Mining Company Limited (NIOMCO) as part of bids to revamp the plants.
In a statement on Monday by the federal ministry of information, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development Oluwatoyin Akinlade paid a two-day working visit to the two companies to see the level of preparation.
Akinlade commended the companies’ management for their passion and commitment toward keeping the infrastructures of the companies in good shape and the environment habitable in spite of the daunting challenges confronting them.
The Permanent Secretary restated the government’s commitment to resuscitating both companies. She said the Minister, Olamilekan Adegbite and Minister of State, Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, are assiduously working towards seeing the dream of the two companies starting full operation come to past.
“Ajaokuta is the future, the bedrock of Nigeria development,” adding that the resuscitation “must be done, and can be done,” she said.
However, she noted that Ajaokuta without NIOMCO, is like a “car without tyres,” hence efforts are being made to resuscitate both companies at the same time to achieve the desired result.
It will be recalled that in October 2019 in Sochi, Russia, President Muhammadu Buhari entered a Memorandum of Understanding with President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation on resuscitation and completion of Ajaokuta Steel Company. One of the strategies in that process is the technical audit of the installed equipments.
The Permanent Secretary urged the staff to sharpen their skills to meet up with upcoming task, as well as to continue to maintain the good industrial harmony, assuring them that efforts are being made to address some of the welfare challenges, especially salary arrears.
Sole Administrator of NIOMCO, Nkechika Augustus said the mandate of the company is to provide the basic raw material for iron and steel production, and that NIOMCO is required to supply the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited with 2.15 million tonnes of iron ore concentrate with iron (FE) content of 63 – 64 percent in its first phase of operation during which it is expected to produce 1.3 million tonnes of steel.
“The need to fully complete the rehabilitation of the plants and also acquire additional mining equipment early cannot be overemphasized. This is because to meet the first phase of ASCL’s production level alone, NIOMCO should produce and process seven million tonnes of raw iron ore annually,” he said.
In the same vein, the Sole Administrator of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, Sumaila Abdul-Akaba, informed the Permanent Secretary that the staff are fully prepared to work with the Technical Audit Team and the Ministry to achieve the set goal.
The facilities inspected by the Permanent Secretary included blocks of flats for residential accommodation for the coming Technical Audit Team, office accommodation, transport facilities, medical centre, equipment store, machine & tools shop, among others.