By NBF News
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Mr Musa Sada, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development has said that the Federal Government is determined to diversify the country's revenue earning through the development of minerals and metals for export.

A statement signed by the Deputy Director Press of the ministry, Mr Marshell Gundu, stated that Sada spoke in Abuja when a delegation from the African Iron and Steel Association paid him a courtesy visit. He said that the Federal Government would make minerals and metal sectors the bedrock of the nation's economy in the next few years.

The minister said that the development of minerals sector was part of the transformation agenda of the Federal Government.

Sada expressed the ministry's readiness to partner with stakeholders in the industry to move the sector forward, adding that the minerals and steel sectors were vital resources for the industrialisation of the country.

He said that the sector was facing several challenges hampering the survival of the steel industry, and that they included infrastructure, raw materials and legal problem. Sada said that government was ready to tackle these problems in order to move the sector forward.

He said, 'For the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe to be functional, government has directed the resuscitation of one line of the company to produce iron ore, the basic raw material for steel production.

'To solve the technical problems associated with the nation's steel sector; the ministry is already collaborating with relevant bodies such as the Ministries of Justice, Works, Transportation and Finance,'' he said.

He said that he had directed the Mining Cadastre Office not to renew the 19 mining titles issued to the Delta Steel Company (DSC). Sada said that he ordered that those mining titles should be converted to the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO).

He said that the legal problem was also a major factor facing the steel industry, adding that the legal tussle would soon be solved.

He said that budgetary provision was not adequate for the sector, and that with the partnership of the Ministry of Finance, other areas of statutory funding would be explored for the sector.

Sada gave assurance that the Federal Government would support the association in its bid to develop the minerals and metals sectors.

Earlier, the Executive Secretary of the African Iron and Steel Association, Alhaji Sanusi Mohammed, said that the essence of their visit was to brief the minister of the activities of  the association.

Mohammed said that part of the aim of the visit was to give the ministry the views of the association on how to grow the nation's steel sector. He commended the minister for resuscitating the nation's steel sector, which had about 18 steel rolling mills and expressed the association's determination to revisit the issues of privatised steel industries that were not functioning.

Mohammed lamented the improper way the privatisation of the nation's steel rolling mills was carried out.

He disclosed that each moribund steel rolling mill was built with an estimated 120 million dollars with the production capacity of 210,000 tonnes of billet per annum.

He added, however, that none of the steel rolling mills was sold for more than 10 million dollars. Mohammed also appealed to the Federal Government to make a budgetary provision for the association.