The government said it spends N300 monthly on salaries to maintain Ajaokuta Steel Company.
The Federal Government has declared that in the next one month, it will revoke all dormant coal mining licenses of companies yet to commence operations years after the licences were issued.
Briefing journalists after the second meeting of the National Council on Privatization, NCP, which was chaired by Vice President Namadi Sambo, at the Presidential Villa, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Musa Sada, said this was following a direct order given by the Vice President that all dormant mining titles be revoked to allow government reallocate them to serious miners who are willing to support the federal government’s coal to power projects.
Mr. Sada, who briefed alongside the Minister of Power, Chinedu Nebo, and the Director General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE, Benjamin Dikki, also noted that coal development for the power sector was at the heart of President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda.
He said it was worrisome that years after the 15 licenses were issued, the companies were yet to commence actual mining of coal. He added that government was bent on using coal to boost its current coal to power Programme.
“For obvious reasons, we need this mineral resource to produce power to leverage on what we have to get what we want.
“We have already started the process to release from any encumbrance, those titles that are being held by people.
“We are not willing to allow it to remain on speculative basis. People that have these titles must have to operate them or lose them in line with the provision of the Minerals Mining Act,” he said.
He said the affected licences included the coal blocks that belonged to the government coal corporation and were sold to companies who ought to have been in the full coal production.
“So, we are looking at the agreement they signed with the BPE,” he said. “We are looking at the Mineral Act and we are putting the two together and we have already started interfacing with them and we are making some progress on that.”
Mr. Sada said the Vice President also directed all relevant agencies of government to ensure that the legal impasse in Ajaokuta Steel Company is settled amicably and to ensure that all agitations engulfing the Company are put to rest.
He further disclosed that government is at the verge of signing agreements with serious investors.
“We looked at the potentials around it and presently government is on the verge of signing agreements with some serious steel producing companies who are interested in taking it forward.
“Part of the discussion is that when we finally come to privatize Ajaokuta, we make sure that we privatize a company that is alive and make sure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated and that the facility being privatized really works,” he said.
Mr. Sada also said the federal government was also looking into pending labour issues , including the emolument for workers.
“The Vice President has given a clear cut directive that the Minister of Finance who is also the Chairperson of the Finance Committee of the NCP should look at the issues of labour critically with the view to giving immediate attention to all the outstanding labour issues especially as it relates to the issue of welfare in all the privatized steel companies”.
The Sole Administrator of the Ajaokuta Steel Company, Joseph Onobere, also said Ajaokuta complex which has a current asset value of $5 billion, has been over 98 per cent ready since 1994. He added that monthly, N300 million is spent on salaries of those who still work at maintaining the company.
He further said the plant has a 110 mega power plant which will commence with the supply of 25 megawatts within the next two weeks.
Mr. Onobere, who said government also wants to ensure that the place is in a serviceable condition, also disclosed that government has not ceded any part of the plant to any of the investors.
Speaking on the Liquidation of NITEL /MTEL, Benjamin Dikki announced that the liquidator has effectively taken over, and a high powered delegation of the federal government will be heading for London soon to woo buyers for NITEL/ MTEL.
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