By Ike Uchechukwu

The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah has lauded the Cross River State Government for donating 5 hectares of land for the establishment of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mineral, ASM, process Cluster in the State.

The Minister gave the commendation on Monday in Calabar during the handing and taking over ceremony of landed property donated by the State for the ASM Cluster.

His words: “I am delighted to make this remark at this important occasion of the handover ceremony of landed property graciously donated by the Government of Cross River State for the establishment of an Artisanal and Small-Scale Mineral processing cluster in Cross River State by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“The development of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mineral processing cluster project is an initiative of the Federal Government in swift response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that has been ravaging the world over.

“This is In order to curtail the devasting effect of the pandemic on means of livelihoods of Nigerians, President Mohamed Buhari approved the implementation of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan headed by His Excellency, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

“This plan for the minerals sector entails the development of the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mineral processing clusters across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

“The overarching goal of the project is to spur and ensure sustainable growth of socio-economic activities across the sub-economic sectors of the nation. In the minerals sector, we are focused on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) activities which constitute over 90% of the mining industry in Nigeria,” he said.

According to Dr. Ogah, the centre will increase the efficiency of mining and mineral processing operation and boost the case of doing mining business too.

He also said that upon completion, the Cluster will provide common facilities that will enable easy formalization of the artisanal mining activities in barite supply chain in the catchment areas and avail the operators the platform for value addition and access to reliable mineral market.

Ogah further added that under the project, the Federal Government intends to embark on infrastructural development within the cluster area; namely, a barite processing plant, mining equipment leasing bay, training centre, warehouse, office complex amongst others amenities.

He said:” The centre will Increase efficiency in mining and mineral processing operations, increase mineral production and revenue generations. It will also enhance safer mining practices; boost the case of doing mining business; fast-track development of downstream mineral value chain; and

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“The Federal Government choice of Cross River State for the siting of the cluster project for Barite value chain development is predicated on the fact that the State is endowed with large commercial deposits of the mineral.

“Barite deposit occurrences in Cross River State are mainly around Obubra through to Yala LGA which informed the siting of the cluster project in Yala.

“It is important to emphasise that the cluster project for barite value chain development will mark the dawn of the present Administration’s effort to end barite importation especially in the oil/gas industry,” he said

On his part, the Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade represented by his deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu said the plan to situate the Centre in Cross River is a welcome development.

He said: “I really thank God for this because from all indication, there was no politics or nepotism in the process, if not Cross River won’t benefit.

“By this development, Cross River will also benefit from 13% solid Mineral derivation, since we no longer have oil, we can give more land and very ready to support the project to succeed because we know that a lot of CrossRiverians will benefit from it,” he said.

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