Bitumen exploration: Mining commences soon
By Adekola Afolabi
Arrangements are in top gear to start mining at the Ondo State Bitumen site as the South West Bitumen (SWB) Company has confirmed that it was ready to start operations.
Speaking during a working visit to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, the Managing Director of South West Bitumen Company, Mr Akin Odumakin, disclosed that SWB was going to start with its operational base which would be ready within the next three months.
Odumakin who told the governor that their equipment are ready in the state and ready to start mining, informed that hundreds of people would be employed by the time they begin their operations in no time.
He said Bitumen Research and Development Centre has been established at the Federal University of Technology in Akure with an affiliate with the state University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, reiterating their readiness to build the centre and to beg in operations of the petroleum product in the three blocks licensed to them.
The bitumen project is one of the present administration’s commitments in Ondo state to ensure that the product which the state has in large deposit was not only harnessed, but to change drastically the economic fortunes of the people.
The bitumen when tapped has a lot of potentials which include gas and other petroleum products.
The Managing Director explained that the company has been licensed by the Federal Government to operate for twenty five years and bought 14,800 hectares of land from the communities allocated to work.
The communities according to him are in Irele, Okitipupa and Odigbo, and that they have duly compensated in a peaceful manner those whose properties were affected, noting that the team came to the governor to seek the approval of the state government as stated in the law for the full ownership of the lands.
Odumakin while stressing that Nigeria consumes more bitumen than 95% of all African countries combined noted that the state ranked 5th largest bitumen reserves in the world with the potential of producing asphalt product that can compete in the international market if explored.
Responding, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu commended the company for its efforts towards ensuring the realisation of the untapped products and also resolving with host communities in a more civil manner which will be of great benefit to them and the state at large.
Akeredolu who acknowledged the former Minister of Mines and Steel Development and governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, for showing interest in the exploration of the project assured the company that the state would look at their request on the land acquisition as stated in the law.