From Joe Effiong, Uyo

The multi-billion naira Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON), which stopped production more than five years ago, may resume duty in 2023 if the federal government fulfils its promises of providing a dedicated line 90 megawatts of electricity to facilitate its reactivation.

The Managing Director of the company, Mr Zavdov Dmitry, who disclosed this when the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Mr Uche Ogah, paid a need assessment visit to the company situated at Ikot Abasi Akwa Ibom State, said the company actually need a total of 360 megawatts of electricity to function but the 90 megawatts urgently needed is to help in test running some of the machines to determine tharit usefulness.

Mr Dmitry said so far the company has spent over a million dollars to maintain the morribund company and prevent its being vandalised

He listed the major problem of the company as the nonavailability of affordable gas to power the six turbines that provide energy to power the plants so that the reactivation could be completed in the next 18 months for proper production to begin

In his response the minister said: ‘The President, Muhammadu Buhari has mandated that ALSCON should be activated as soon as possible, latest before the end of this administration.

‘A lot of approvals have been gotten from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) concerning concession for the gas utilization in ALSCON. So, I believe with all the efforts we put in place soon ALSCON will be a glorious outcome.’

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On the legal tussles which also tharted the operations of the company, the minister said the court cases formed part of his mission to the site of the company.

Mr Ogah also said the federal government is also interested in working with the Akwa Ibom State government to develop the solid mineral sector which is abundant in the state.

‘We are looking at seeking synergy and collaboration between the state government and the federal government to harness the potential of solid minerals in the state.

‘There are a lot of solid minerals in Akwa Ibom State and we believe that the synergy we are creating will give rise to great opportunities that will lead to massive employment of Nigerian youths and wealth creation to our people,’ the minister noted.

The state Commissioner for Environment and Solid Minerals, Mr Charles Udoh, said that since 2015 the state government has been working toward diversifying the economic sector of the state.

‘You cannot depend on oil forever. So we are working hand-in-hand with stakeholders to see potential that could help diversify the economy of the state. So the visit of the Minister is one of those steps in that direction,’ Mr Udoh said.