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FG Inaugurates First Gold Refining Company

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The Federal Government, Tuesday, inaugurated Nigeria’s first Gold and precious Metals Refining Conglomerate, an operation of Dukia Gold a Precious Metals Raw Materials Buying Program in collaboration with Heritage Bank.

At the inauguration via a Zoom virtual meeting, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, explained that Nigeria has the potential reserves of 200 million ounces of gold, and the commencement of the project would create new opportunities locally and beyond especially after post-COVID-19.

Osinbajo expressed optimism that the launch would enable Nigeria to mine reserves properly, trade responsibly, refine locally, and boost the nation’s foreign reserves.

He added that the project will also create primary employment for local artisanal miners and mining cooperatives, and across the solid minerals value chain.

According Osinbajo, the Dukia Gold & Precious Metals Refinery Project, championed by the High Commissions of Nigeria and Canada, has been seven years in the making.

He said: “It is said that Nigeria has potential reserves of 200 million ounces of gold and the launch of this expansive project, Dukia Gold, creates new opportunities for us to mine these reserves properly, trade responsibly and refine locally. What we are looking at here is an extremely valuable new source of trade, jobs and foreign exchange.

“This project will create primary employment for local artisanal miners and mining cooperatives, and across the solid minerals value chain. Off-take agreements between Dukia Gold and local mining communities and owners of recyclable gold will be a useful provider of jobs in our post-covid economy.”

Osinbajo further explained that the official launch of the project would also birth the nationwide Dukia-Heritage Bank Gold and Precious Metals Buying Centres as part of valuable private sector collaboration to help encourage a culture of recycling mineral waste.

“Within this project, we are also commissioning the nationwide Dukia-Heritage Bank Gold and Precious Metals Buying Centres – part of valuable private sector collaboration. This provides a sustainable way for Nigerians to exchange their gold jewellery and other precious items for cash. This system of exchange not only helps encourage a culture of recycling, but will also serve as a complementary source for the raw materials needed for the Dukia Gold & Precious Metals Refining Company.”

On his part, MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo, said the partnership would boost the mining industry production, and have given birth to a new market, a platform that will contribute immensely to the transformation of Nigeria’s economy.

According to him, the operationalization of this initiative aligns with the Federal Government’s overall Economic Transformation Agenda, especially as it relates to the full steam diversification of the Nigerian economy, job and wealth creation, development of the solid mineral space amongst others.

Sekibo affirmed, “It is our believe that as the economy of Nigeria is being recalibrated, given the impact of the global pandemic, the government’s committed aspiration to build a robust and resilient economy will be further enhanced through the operationalization of this initiative working with all stakeholders across States and Government parastatals, the Central Bank, private sector and other international actors towards the development of the solid minerals sector and its appendages.”

He explained that this would enhance a regulated market that would see precious metals and other commodities take centre stage in endeavour to ensuring irreversible economic growth and development in alliance with a modernized Exchange for commodities trading in Nigeria.

Economic Confidential

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Maritime

Exclusive Interview: Izah Ogor,South-South Zonal Coordinator of NSC Speaks on Business in the Eastern Seaports

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Ogor Izah Nigerian Shippers Council

Interview with Ogor Izah, South-South Zonal Co-ordinator, Nigerian Shippers Council

The news of the arrival of the biggest ship to have ever berthed at Nigerian Seaport to us to the office of Izah Ogor, South-South Zonal Coordinator of Nigerian Shippers Council as we sought reactions from stakeholders to the welcome development.

An excited ZC of the port economic regulator, reeled out an avalanche of information as he spoke on a wide range of maritime issues.

FR News: Why do ship operators still prefer Lagos ports over the Eastern Seaports in spite of the loud complains of congestion, gridlock and overstretched facilities?

Izah:  The total port cost of doing business at the Eastern Seaports of Port Harcourt, Onne, Warri and Calabars are quite high making it impossible for some of these stakeholders to make meaningful profit in their businesses. This is why you may be surprised to see people living in Port Harcourt or even people living in Onne preferring to bring in their cargo through Lagos.

This port cost includes various items like unnecessary charges by the MDAs at the ports, frustrations arising from communal interventions, incessant extortions, roadblocks mounted by customs, double charges, piracy, and the issue of the shallowness of the channels.

The infrastructure in these areas are not in their best condition. However, the Onne Port is about the biggest in West Africa. So why are ships not coming there? It is because of the high port costs.

Averagely, by the time your cargo arrives, the total cost could be much higher than if you were to come through Lagos.

FR News: In spite all these issues you have mentioned, especially the much talked about issue of shallow and narrow water channels, the NPA recently celebrated the arrival of the biggest cargo ship to ever berth in a Nigerian seaport. Was this a miracle?

Izah: No, it was not a miracle. It is a response to the yearnings of stakeholders who have long complained of the state of affairs in the ports around here.

You remember that even in the middle of the congestion in Lagos, members of the National Assembly went to Lagos to see things and later advised the government to start diverting vessels to other ports. Progress was being made in this direction before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like you said, two weeks ago, we woke up to the fanfare of the biggest ship ever to berth in any Nigerian port in Onne. This was an attempt by the NPA to assure stakeholders that vessels can actually come into this place.

What happened is this- we’ve been talking about the shallowness of the draft yet the ‘biggest ever’ came in- how?

The Port Harcourt and Onne Ports are located on creeks that enjoy tidal advantage- so the vessel was able to come in and leave taking advantage of the high tide. This means that even though the channels are yet to be dredged, the ship had an incidence of free voyage.

By this, the NPA had successfully demonstrated that it can be done- the rest is for ship owners to tell their customers in Aba, Onitsha and other places that they can now bring their cargo through here.

By this, the NPA had successfully demonstrated that it can be done- the rest is for ship owners to tell their customers in Aba, Onitsha and other places that they can now bring their cargo through here.

FR News: Can We say that this is a sign of a coming boom?

Izah: Definitely. I have been talking to my colleagues in the MDA on how to ensure more competitive and friendly ports. we are also strategizing to assure the shippers that it can be done.

FR News: As a regulatory agency, what has the Shippers Council been doing over the years to help increase the patronage of the eastern seaports?

Izah: After listening to several complaints of frustrations from stakeholders in this area, the Shippers Council severally met with the National Assembly on the state of infrastructure, the issue of piracy and extortion on the roads. For example, in Warri, after every cargo has been released, at the port gate you will see Egbesu boys demanding for money. But, following our complaints, the coordinating ministry has reached out to the National Assembly for legislative intervention.

If you can remember, around May last year, members of the National Assembly members visited the eastern seaports to find out why they were underutilized. As a result of this, the lawmakers began to proffer ways of redirecting vessels to the eastern seaports.

Also, when we observed the overlapping functions of most agencies at the ports, Shippers Council through the presidency initiated the Standards Operating Procedure (SOP) of all stakeholders in the ports- the customs, the Immigration, the Port Health, NIMASA, SON, NAFDAC etc. The SOP streamlined the activities/functions of each stakeholder agency in the port.

The Shippers Council has been able to talk with the leadership of the Nigerian Customs to remove most of the checkpoints on the road because we believe this will ensure free and seamless delivery of cargo.

 We’ve also spoken with the hierarchy of the police to encourage officers on the Highways to allow free flow of cargo.

During the COVID19 Lockdown, the Shippers Council was fully active to make sure all our ports were operational because despite the pandemic, medicine, food and other essential goods had to be delivered.

In Rivers State, the Shippers Council was busy sensitizing stakeholders to keep working despite the health situation to ensure delivery of goods from ships.

Shippers council intervened when the Rivers State government arrested some members of the maritime workers union over breach of lockdown order.

FR News: As a stakeholder, how do you rate the readiness of the Eastern Seaports for a possible surge in port activities?

Izah: We are ready. I believe all the stakeholders have fought so hard that they will want this place to work. As port economic regulators, we have embarked on sensitization of all other stakeholders by way of introducing the new opportunities offered by the NPA. While the customs, NIMASA, SON, Port Health, including the Shipping Trade among others are all willing to take advantage of the new initiative.

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Business

Discos To Pay For Rejecting Electricity – NERC

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Court orders FG to publish details of runaway electricity contractors contractors

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has said the power distribution companies will be liable to capacity charge for failure to take their entire load allocation caused by constraints in their networks.

NERC disclosed this in a document seen by our correspondent on Thursday in which it announced to the Discos the review of the extraordinary tariff review application filed by them.

Last week, the Discos announced what they called “new service reflective tariff”, which took effect from September 1, 2020, with the tariffs being charged residential consumers receiving a minimum of 12 hours of power supply rising by over 70 per cent.

Economic Confidential had reported on Monday that the Transmission Company of Nigeria said the Discos failed to distribute 8,733.39MW in the week ended August 30.

The TCN, which manages the national grid, is still fully owned and operated by the government.

“Where it is established that the TCN is unable to deliver load allocation, the TCN shall be liable to pay for the associated capacity charge,” NERC said in the document.

According to the regulator, where a Disco fails to take its entire load allocation due to constraints in its own network, it shall be liable to pay the capacity charge as allocated in its vesting contract.

It said, “The average tariff for each Disco was determined considering the projected energy offtake of the company based on its percentage load allocation in the vesting contract.

“NBET shall continue to invoice the Disco for capacity charge and energy based on its load allocation and metered energy respectively in accordance with the December 2019 Minor Review of MYTO 2015 and Minimum Remittance Order for Year 2020.”

NERC said several Discos and the TCN considered the current Multi-Year Tariff Order load allocation as sub-optimal, given the changes that had occurred in load growth and capacities of the transmission and distribution networks.

It added, “However, a full justification for a holistic review of the MYTO load allocation could not be established during this extraordinary tariff review process.

“Accordingly, the commission orders that the current MYTO load allocation shall be maintained for the purpose of computing the relevant tariffs of all Discos.”

Total power generation in the country stood at 3,127.6 megawatts as of 6am on Thursday, according to data from the Nigerian Electricity System Operator.

The TCN’s data on national grid performance from August 24 to 30 which was released on Saturday showed that the electricity distributed by the Discos during the week averaged 3,419.78MW.

The system operator put the national peak demand forecast at 28,290MW; installed generation capacity at 12,910.40MW; available capacity at 7,652.60MW; transmission wheeling capacity at 8,100MW; and peak generation at 5,420.30MW.

NERC, in its report on power supply status on all 132/33/11kV interface substation in August, warned Discos against load rejection.

It said, “Discos should be cautioned on deliberate refusal to clear faults on some 33kV feeders within the timeline of eight hours as stipulated in the Reporting Compliance Regulations.

“Discos should also be cautioned against deliberate isolation of some sections of 33kV feeders to limit the loading of the feeders and denying customers electricity services.”

Economic Confidential

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