The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, says the Federal Government will soon ban the importation of barite to help the country save foreign exchange for other useful purposes.
Adegbite, who said this when he featured as a special guest on News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) programme: Forum, noted that about $300million was spent annually to import barite from Morocco.
Barite is a mineral consisting of barium sulphate, typically occurring as colourless prismatic crystals or thin white flakes used in the oil industry and also part of the drilling mud mixture.
The minister said a consultant had been engaged by the ministry to workout modalities for sourcing barite locally and also end its importation into the country.
“Nigeria has been spending millions of dollars every year on barite. We import barite from Morocco, about 300 million dollars worth annually, and this is something we have in Nigeria.
“We have barite all over the country (in Nasarawa, Cross River States); so, why can’t we produce our barite. There are standards required by the industry and we have it.
“Now, as at today, the proven deposit that we have is over a million ounces but we believe that the prospect could be over 200 million ounces.
“We have a Canadian company in Nigeria that is working out something in Osun; they already have at least one million ounces of proven deposit.
“The plan is to start processing and exporting gold by the end of the year but, because of COVID-19, it might be in the first quarter of next year,” Adegbite said.