The Federal Government has advised investors, especially in the mines and steel sector, to ensure that they carried their host communities along before commencing operations.
Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, gave the charge when he visited the Integrated Steel Plant being built by the African Natural Resources and Mines Limited (ANRML) in Jere community, Kaduna State.
Jere is a densely populated community located in Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna state.
The minister said carrying host communities along before the commencement of operations was critical to forestall clash between such communities and investors as was being experienced in the Niger Delta region.
“My visit here today, is to encourage investment in mining and steel development and to also urge investors to do this as quickly as possible.
“This government is particularly interested in not making the mistakes we made in the Niger Delta region when the whole investment started.
“One of the most important factors for government in developing the mining and steel sector, is that the communities must be taken along right from the beginning.
“It is of utmost importance that communities must be involved from the beginning, communities in a graduated way, must benefit as the company grows,’’ the minister said.
The minister maintained that as investment grew, host communities should derive graduated benefits in areas of employment, infrastructure, including social infrastructure.
He added that government on its part, would continue to moderate the expectations of host communities.
He advised the ANRML to distribute electricity that would be generated from its excess grid to the community, if not for free, at least at a subsidised rate.
He expressed optimism that because the company had a reputation of doing what was right, it would always do the needful in its operations.
Earlier, Mr Alok Gupta, ANRML Managing Director, said his company was investing 600 million dollars in the project.
He added that the investment would serve as a catalyst for development of the solid minerals sector by attracting other serious investors following its example in downstream processing.
ANRML is a diversified Manufacturing Group involved in the manufacturing of various products including steel.
The company started operations in Nigeria in 1971 employing over 8,000 persons in its 18 manufacturing plants.
According to its Managing Director, the company is the largest producer of steel in Nigeria.
He said the company had the lion share of the market with an annual production capacity of over 1.2 million tonnes of finished steel products.
Gupta told the minister that the company was mindful of the host community, saying that it stood to benefit substantially from its investment in the development of the region.
He added that the company had continuously engaged members of the community in order to carry them along, saying that the first phase of the project would be commissioned by end of December 2020.
He added that the company would be mining 5.4 million tonnes of Iron Ore at completion to produce high grade concentrate followed by making into pellets and then finally into Directly Reduced Iron (DRI).
Gupta said the company was also building a 36 MW power plant from the waste heat recovered in the process, which would be partly used for captive consumption.
He added that the project would bring about lasting social and economic benefits to the community through the development of social infrastructure and job creation, both directly and indirectly.
“Producing steel from locally available iron ore will lead to sustainable economic development, considering the abundance of iron ore reserves in the country.
“The project will also contribute significantly to the Nigerian Gross Domestic Project (GDP) by way of royalties and direct and indirect taxes.
“The surplus power generated will further assist in developing other industries and residences and will help in urbanisation of the local area, ’’ Gupta said.