The Federal Government is set to commence bidding process for prospective investors to explore the vast bitumen deposit in the country, Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said.
Fayemi, who disclosed this during a working visit to bitumen bearing communities in Agbabu area, Ondo State, at the weekend, said the bidding round for licences would be for serious investors with proven work and financial plans.
In a statement by the Special Assistant on Media to the Minister, Olayinka Oyebode, Fayemi was quoted as saying that the process would be completed before the end of the year, reassuring the communities of government’s readiness to protect their interest through right policy and regulations.
The minister examined samples of bitumen in Agbabu, Ilubirin and Lado, and interacted with leaders of the communities, where he assured them of government’s sincerity to protect their interests.
“We want your mineral to work for you, and we are fully ready to assist your communities to ensure that you get the best from the process,” Fayemi said.
The minister said government would partner with the states, investors and the communities to ensure that the enabling environment is created.
He assured them that within the next six months massive work would commence on the bitumen project.
Explaining some of the policies that would be put in place, Fayemi said that emphasis would be placed on exploration and exploitation of the mineral.
He decried the fact that about 80 per cent of asphaltic materials used for road construction in the country was imported in spite of Nigeria’s vast bitumen deposit, adding, “Priority will be given to investors that would build processing plants. The processing plants will boost local production, which will in turn will help us meet local demands and create jobs for youths.”
The Minister stated that the major focus of the ministry is to ensure that the contribution of the solid minerals to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) records a significant improvement from 0.3 percent to, at least, 10 percent in the near future.