The director-general of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Prof. Hussaini Doko Ibrahim, has said Nigeria loses $29.9 million in capital flight on the importation of barite annually.
In an exclusive chat with Science Nigeria in Abuja, he described the development as no longer acceptable, saying the council had put in place plans and strategies to boost local production of barite in Nigeria in order to stem import dependency.
The RMRDC boss pointed out that the council had characterized samples of barites from most of the deposits in the country and that it was working on promoting the beneficiation of low-grade barite by using techniques such as gravity separation, floatation and magnetic separation techniques in collaboration with reputable equipment fabricators in the country.
The council, according to him, is also working to promote the upgrading of the low-grade barite to meet up with the API requirement for oil and gas drilling, saying the low-grade barite that does not meet API grade of 4.2 after beneficiation would be diverted to glass or paint production industries.
Ibrahim said the council in collaboration with stakeholders in the petroleum sector including the Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PDTF) and the University of Ibadan was working for the development of barite as drilling mud weighing agent.
“The project is looking at the impact of Nigerian barite and ilmenite on enhancing the drilling mud weight in oil and gas industry. The project aims at considering the feasibility of the utilization of local barite and ilmenite as weighing agents to enhance drilling muds. The investigation will ultimately provide quality and reliable geoscientific information that will encourage the use of locally available barite and ilmenite,” he said.
He further said the council in collaboration with experts was working on making these recommendations a reality as stakeholders also had also observed the need to ban importation of barite in the country, adding they also observed the need for all actors in barite value chain development to come together to ensure utilization of locally mined barites and resuscitate the local mines already abandoned, etc.
The RMRDC helmsman said the council as a member of the Technical Tariff Committee (TTC) would advocate an appropriate tariff regime that would give local production a competitive edge.
“In addition to the above, the council is establishing a mineral testing and certification centre at the African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja. Miners can now be able to know the grade of their minerals before putting them in the market. This will enable them to charge appropriate prices for their commodities. The council has geared up activities to facilitate post COVID-19 era economic growth agenda of the government, promote wealth creation and to save the $29.9 million expended annually on barite importation,” he added.