A statement from the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in Abuja says the minister, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, plans to meet with the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, to look into why oil companies operating in the country has refused to patronise the local baryte producers but preferred to import the products.
Fayemi is seeking the meeting as part of a pledge to find a way of convincing oil companies in the country to patronise local producers of baryte to reduce importation of the product.
The minister made the pledge to the Association of Miners and Processors of Baryte, AMAPOB, Benue State chapter, during a recent town hall meeting in Benue as part of his nationwide tour.
“With what the association has shown to me and the quality of the local baryte which is 4.3 specification gravity, the international specification, there is no reason why they must refuse to buy Nigerian baryte as a source for oil drilling.
“We will also meet with the International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Nigeria to know the specification standard of baryte they want and the quantity,” he said.
He urged the association to provide a guarantee that it would make the product available at all time to the oil companies if they accepted to patronise local product.
“This issue must be resolved now before we intervene because oil companies must continuously use the product, this is critical to them and they can not take the risk of any shortage,” he said.
The minister said President Muhammadu Buhari has launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, adding that the plan is directly of interest to baryte producers.
Fayemi said the target of the plan for the mining sector is processing and import substitution which are major keys that the ministry and stakeholders should achieve together to move the sector forward.
He urged the association to bring enough prove as it claimed that it has enough baryte reserve, so that the ministry can liaise with the Minister of Works to fix the roads leading to their sites.
He said that the ministry would also convince the transport minister to construct rail line to move their products.
Earlier, the First Vice President, AMAPOB, Mr. Mike Mku, told the minister that the baryte being exploited in Nigeria were of the international standard and in abundance to sustain the oil companies.
He said that oil companies initially were claiming that Nigeria baryte was of low quality and do not have enough to sustain their productions, but that has been cleared.