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By: Ade Adeleke
Plans have been concluded to kick-start the exploration of the large deposit of Bitumen in Ondo State by an indigenous company.
The company named South West Bitumen, (SWB) has secured a 25-Year renewable operational mining license across a land mass of about 14,800 Hectares in the Southern part of the State.
Speaking during a working visit to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in Akure, the Managing Director of South West Bitumen Company, Engineer Akin Odumakinde, noted that construction of a befitting operational base for the company would be completed within the next three months.
Odumakinde who told the governor that the SWB was ready to commence mining operation of bitumen in the state very soon having taken delivery of needed equipment and paid the agreed compensation to the families of land owners whose landed properties were within the landmass acquired for the project .
He said on completion, several persons would be employed from the host communities across Odigbo , Irele and Okitipupa Local Government Areas.
He categorically stated that a Bitumen Research and Development Centre had been established at the Federal University of Technology in Akure and its affiliate to be at the state’s University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa.
At inception of his administration the governor had stated that the bitumen project was close to his heart adding that the product which the state has in large abundance would not only be harnessed but also bring about the desired change to the economic fortunes of the state.
While briefing the governor on the efforts carried out so far on the project, the Managing Director explained that the nation stands to benefit a lot from the project.
He stressed that Nigeria consumes more than 95% of bitumen processed in West Africa , noting that the state ranked 5th largest bitumen reserves in the world with the potential of producing asphalt products that can compete in the international market if explored.
Responding, Governor 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 acknowledged the former Minister of Mines and Steel Development and now the Governor of Ekiti, Dr Kayode Fayemi, for his immeasurable interest at granting the license to the company .
He assured that the State Government would look speedily into the request to confer Deeds of Ownership of the acquired land for the project on the company through the issuance of Certificate of Ownership.