Professor Linus Asuquo, Director-General/Chief Executive, National Metallurgical Development Centre, NMDC.

By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos – The Director-General/Chief Executive, National Metallurgical Development Centre, NMDC, Professor Linus Asuquo has advocated for improved funding to enable the centre to create wealth and generate revenue for its expenses and research works.

Professor Asuquo who earlier outlined the successes recorded at the Centre in the last few years commended the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite as well as other principal officials of the Ministry for their support and called for more support for the Centre to actualize its goals.

The DG/CE who spoke when Architect Adegbite made a working visit to the Centre in Jos on Friday stressed there is an existing signed MoU between the Centre and DICON in Kaduna and called for assistance to enable the full implementation of the said MoU.

His words, “…It is indeed my singular honour to receive the Hon. Minister who has done so much for the development of the Centre and the minerals industry in Nigeria…

“NMDC is one of the key agencies in the minerals and metals sector and its activities are crucial in value addition and development of processes in the entire mineral processing chain, from exploration to extraction and fabrication.

“Significant progress has been recorded since the inception of the Buhari administration. Allow me to put on record some of the achievements recorded during your stewardship in the Buhari administration.

“As a result of heavy rainstorms over the years, several laboratories and workshops had been threatened by erosion putting at risk several research equipment and facilities costing hundreds of millions of naira.

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“The release of funds that enabled the construction of a control system checked that menace and secured these facilities. Many laboratories and workshops were built when NMDC was established in 1973 and had become dilapidated.Their roofings were made of asbestos materials which are very hazardous and cancerous.

“Under the Hon. Ministers’ stewardship, no less than seven laboratories, workshops, and the Centre’s clinic were re-designed and rehabilitated to world-class standards by the Mineral Sector Support Fund for Economic Diversification (MinDiver).

“No minerals and metals R&D establishment can make an impact in the sector without a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) with its auxiliary equipment.The only SEM the Centre had was obsolete and non-functional since the ’80s. As a result, the Centre had been resorting to the outdated methods and low power microscopes in its microstructural analysis work.”

He intimated that “the Centre through also the MinDivers, has now acquired new, state-of-the-art replacements… These equipment enhance the Centre’s capacity for mineral identification, processing, metallurgical research and analysis, and the conduct of forensic science.”

He also stated that there is a “Memorandum of Understanding between NMDC and the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), to collaborate to enable local production of materials for the manufacture of armaments for the Nigerian armed forces to develop local capacity in this area came to the fore as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which saw economic activities such as manufacturing and transportation – land, sea and air grounding to a halt with difficulties in all areas experienced by all areas.”

On the challenges facing the Centre, he noted, “a lot remains to be done for us to succeed in the implementation of the MoU with DICON and other R&D works for the diversification of the economy.

“Provision of additional critical equipment to operationalize the EAFs for the work on steels; testing and commissioning of the Lead Smelting Pilot plant, acquisition of the capacity to conduct research in the production of Brasses and other non-ferrous metals; enhancement of capacity for mineral beneficiation studies.”

The Minister who was impressed with what he found at the Centre said, “Any nation that wants to make progress technologically must have its steel production, without this centre, Nigeria cannot make it and you can see a lot has been done here, much more needs to be done.

“There is an MoU that was signed with DICON, this would not have come about if not for the COVID-19 that disrupted transportation and supply, DICON found what they have been importing from China is in Nigeria here, in Jos, even of a better grade.

“I will try my best with my colleagues in the Ministry to get the remaining funds for them to be at that level that they don’t just serve DICON but the country as a whole.”