President Muhammadu Buhari is diversifying the economy away from crude oil. His focus is on solid minerals and agriculture. Buhari says Nigeria has vas deposits of Bitumen (or Asphalt) which amounts to the second largest in the world.
The primary use (70%) of asphalt/bitumen is in road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder mixed with particles to build roads. Its other main uses are for water proofing such as sealing of flat roofs.
The Buhari administration says it concluded plans to issue licenses to prospective investors to tap into the nations large reserves. This was revealed by the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
According to Fayemi, Nigeria’s bitumen reserve, spans more than 100 square kilometers. However, the exploration of Bitumen is below minimal seeing that Nigeria still imports the product to the tune of 80%!
Speaking to villages in Ondo State where the mineral is found in large quantity, Dr. Fayemi said “We want your mineral to work for you, and we are fully ready to assist your communities get the best from the process. The Federal Government would partner with states, investors and the communities to create the enabling environment.
“Priority will be given to investors with the capacity to build processing plants to boost local production, help meet local demand and create jobs for our youth. Our plans is that before this year runs out, the Federal government will begin on the bitumen project. We will ensure that communities where the raw material is drilled will be dully taken care of.
According to Fayemi, the Buhari led administration is preparing a white paper that will regulate the operations of all licensed companies undertaking the task of exploring bitumen. This will protect foreign and local investors’ interests, Fayemi said. However, the Minister reiterated that investors must follow the rule books.
Aside from the regulatory framework, Fayemi said The Federal Government will grant tax waivers and other business incentives with intent on encouraging investors. In the same vein, local stakeholders in Bitumen exploration will be buoyed through bank loans.