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Russia to revive NIOMCO before completing Ajaokuta Steel

Russia to revive NIOMCO before completing Ajaokuta SteelThe revival of the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, has been included in the deal signed between the Federal Government and Russia for the completion and operation of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, disclosed this on Monday while revealing plans for the forthcoming conference of the National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources Development.

Adegbite also spoke on the recent inspection of facilities at NIOMCO and Ajaokuta Steel Complex by top officials of the ministry.

In the course of the inspection, it was discovered that NIOMCO would have to operate at full capacity before Ajaokuta could work.

NIOMCO was primarily established to supply local iron ore reserves required by the Nigerian steel industry, especially 100 per cent of the iron ore concentrate needed by Ajaokuta, and 40 per cent of the super concentrate needed by the now privatised Delta Steel Company, Aladja.

The company was handed over to an Indian firm, Global Steel Holdings Limited, in the now jettisoned renegotiated concession agreement between the Federal Government and the firm.

The renegotiated agreement followed the termination of the concession of Ajaokuta Steel Complex to the GSHL for a 10-year period, after the Federal Government accused the firm of asset-stripping.

The legal battle that ensued over the issue resulted in the renegotiation of the terms of the concession agreement.

There are indications that the GSHL would once again drag the Federal Government to a foreign court over the breakdown of the renegotiated agreement.

Adegbite, disclosing the outcome of last week’s visit to Itakpe and Ajaokuta, said the revival of NIOMCO had to be included in the agreement with Russia after it became clear that the iron ore mining company was crucial to the fortune of the steel mill.

As a result of the development, NIOMCO would have to be revived before work could start at Ajaokuta, he said.

“The government-to- government agreement we had with Russia did not fully factor in NIOMCO. That has been corrected – right now a meeting is going on in Russia.

“Work will start in NIOMCO before Ajaokuta. NIOMCO needs to stockpile materials before Ajaokuta can work,” the minister said.

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