Minister of Steel Olamilekan Adegbite

The Ajaokuta Steel Company will begin full production in 2022, the Minister of Mines and Steel, Olamilekan Adegbite has said.

He said the Russian Government, through the Russian Export Centre and the Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), is expected to commit $1.465bn to revitalize the moribund steel company.

Adegbite said the Federal Government was expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Russia along with the two organisations – Russian Export Centre and Afrexim bank – by the end of this month.

While Afreximbank would provide $1bn, the Russian Export Centre would make $460m available to complete the long moribund project in the next two years.

Minister of Mines and steel, Olamilekan Adegbite, middle during a visit to the Ajaokuta Steel plant in November 2019

The minister spoke in Lagos on Tuesday at an interactive session with journalists on the developments in the mines and steel sector of the economy.

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The Ajaokuta steel plant, conceived in 1976, was aimed at establishing a metallurgical process plant/engineering complex with other facilities.

It is on 24,000 hectares in Ajaokuta, 38km from Lokoja.

The company is meant to generate important upstream and downstream industrial and economic activities that are critical to the industrialisation of Nigeria.

The plant, tagged “Bedrock of Nigeria’s Industrialisation’’, is also designed to produce iron and liquid steel from mines at Itakpe, in Kogi, some 52km from Ajaokuta.

The project has achieved over 90 per cent completion and some of its sections are already operational.

An accord to revive the Ajaokuta project was reached at a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia in October.

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If operational, the steel plant could provide nearly a million jobs for unemployed Nigerians.