The Nigerian government through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) has launched a made-in-Nigeria barite.
The event, which according to the organisers was geared towards the promotion of local content to boost the economy for a corresponding increase in revenue, took place in Port-Harcourt on Thursday.
The initiative according to them would not only put Nigeria on the radar of the global mining communities but would also save the country from the $300 billion expended annually on its importation, likewise creating employment opportunities for the teeming population.
Describing the launch as “a watershed moment,” the minister of mines and steel development, Olamilekan Adegbite, in his keynote address, said the benefits of the initiative include “accelerated development of the sector along the barite value chain, increased revenue through royalty payment, conservation of foreign exchange and local content promotion in line with federal government policy.”
On ease of doing business, Mr Adegbite said “the ministry is going to commission an open marketplace portal that will connect all stakeholders along the barite value chain to a hub that allows for easy coordination, stocking, effective costing and seamless sale of Barite, while MMSD would assume the role of coordinating the entire process”
The minister of state for petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva was represented by the Executive Secretary at the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Simbi Wabote.
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He said the board was engaging the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers to provide information on available reserves, in-country demand, existing production capacity, production demand for the African regional market and domestication of barite used in the oil and gas sector.
Barite is one of the seven strategic minerals set to unlock the potentials of Nigeria’s solid minerals sector.
It is a key material used in the oil and gas industry as a weighting agent to increase the density of drilling fluids, principally for oil and gas exploration in order to minimise the incidence of blowouts.
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The mineral, which can be found in Nassarawa, Plateau, Taraba, Benue, Adamawa, Cross River, Gombe, Ebonyi, and Zamfara States is estimated to have a proven reserve of 15 million metric tonnes.
Despite its abundant availability in Nigeria, barite remains largely untapped and its underdevelopment has resulted in the loss of about N5 billion annually through importation.
According to NEITI, in 2018, the seven strategic minerals contributed 49.7 per cent to the total royalty generated in the year.
However, barite contributed a meager N33,000, representing 0.001 per cent of the total royalty.
In 2020, data by Statista shows that the global production of barite was estimated to be 7.5 million metric tons, down from 9.8 million metric tons in 2012. The global barite market is valued at $1.4 billion in 2019 and it is projected to reach $2.4 billion by 2027
China, with 40 per cent of the world’s total output is said to be the leading barite producer while a report by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) indicates that the United States is the world’s leading barite consumer, with more than 90 per cent of the barite sold in the United States used as a weighting agent in fluids used in the drilling of oil and natural gas wells.