THE Federal Government, on Monday, commissioned the two recently purchased N360 million state-of-the-art core drilling rigs approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the collection of geological data, with a pledge to convince the National Assembly to approve more funds for the purchase of additional equipment.
Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Honourable Abubakar Bwari, who performed the commissioning in Abuja, said the rigs could go down to 1.5 kilometres, and could still do a lot of things apart from geological data.
Honourable Bwari explained that Nigeria needs data to attract investors and big mining companies into the country, and the government was trying her best to do that.
The minister said Nigeria was on the path of coming back to where it should in 60 years ago when the nation started mining.
“We just commissioned our rigs that the FEC approved for us. Their main function is to do core drilling to collect geological data and this is the first time we are having a rig of this nature. This is a rig that can go down to 1.5 kilometres and can do a lot of things apart from getting geological data, talking about minerals, they can also be used for effective drilling of boreholes. It can also be used with something we are just doing research on geothermal energy.
‘It is a rig that is multipurpose and for a very long time we have been looking for an opportunity to have a rig and I believe the challenge to our geologist now to generate the data for our mining sector because this sector cannot thrive without data and investors would only come to a country where they know there is a bankable data,” he added.
He stated that the rigs, because of their nature, could lead the nation into getting the data required for the mining sector.
According to him, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved about N360 million to buy the rigs. The attention to this sector was not there for a long time. We can all see how bad the situation was, for a rig of less than N360 million, we are talking of two rigs, we couldn’t buy them.
“The Federal Government approved funds to buy these two rigs. It was clear that it was not enough but based on the dictated by the National Assembly, we were only able to buy two. But we would convince the National Assembly to allocate funds to purchase more rigs and I believe the National Executive Council (NEC) would not hesitate to approve more rigs for us,” he affirmed.
Earlier, the Director-General of Nigeria Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), Mr Alex Nwegbu, said for more than 30 years, the agency has been looking forward to a day like that and in most cases when the agency plans two weeks for drilling project, it would spend two months.
According to him, without the support of the minister who allocated funds for this project, it could not have been a reality.
“It is one thing that would upscale the activities of NGSA and it would also generate revenue because a lot of companies need high capacity rig that can reach the depth.
“We want more rigs and it can only come from the minister when he allocates more funds and we would in the process get the geoscience data we have been waiting to realize.
“Many of them are approaching and saying we want to engage your rigs, other mining companies are also approaching, so it is an avenue to generate revenue,” he stated.