The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Olagbite, has said that Nigeria will no longer spend over $300 million every year to import processed barite for the oil sector.
He disclosed this in Ugaga community in Yala LGA of Cross River State where the federal government has established a N1bn barite processing plant where the natural resource is found in vast quantities.
The plant processes 10 tonnes per hour, according to Engineer Adigun Ajibola.
Barite is used mostly in the oil industry to boost oil production. It is crushed and screened to a uniform size and used as a filler or extender, an addition to industrial products, or as a weighting agent in petroleum well drilling mud specification.
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Speaking when he commissioned the plant, the minister said before now the country was exporting raw barite ore which would be processed abroad, and was therefore losing lots of value.
He said this encouraged his ministry to launch the project of establishing the barite processing plant in November, 2021, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The minister further said that Nigeria had a 4.8 gravity standard of barite in vast quantities which was far higher than the 4.2 found elsewhere.
Engr Dan Obong, one of the 20 beneficiaries of grants and donations of artisanal equipment from the ministry for the extractions of barite, commended the federal government for easing their tasks.