Buoyed by recent positive developments in the country’s mineral sector, a Russian mineral deposits prospecting company, JSC Zarubezhgeologia, has come back to invest in Nigeria, 35 years after it closed business in the country.
JSC Zarubezhgeologia renewed interest in investing in the country’s mineral sector was disclosed to the Federal Government on Thursday.
The Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, Alexey Shebarshin, who assumed office recently, made this known when he paid a courtesy visit to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) in Abuja.
According to the Ambassador, “JSC Zarubezhgeologia specialises in the study and evaluation of mineral, energy, water, land, and other natural resources, as well as geo-ecological research and projects.”
He said, “the organisation was founded to carry out production, design, and scientific work in the field of geology in foreign countries.
“Zarubezhgeologia functioned as a general service provider and contractor for the former USSR Ministry of Geology in organising technical collaboration with partner countries, and in geological research under international agreements. The company was also involved in the supply of materials and equipment, as well as providing Russian specialists for projects abroad.”
Amb. Shebashin, who led the company’s delegation from his country to the ministry during the visit, said he was in Nigeria to build on the long existing relationship between his country and Nigeria.
He said, “The Embassy avails itself of the opportunity to express to the ministry the renewed assurance of its highest consideration.”
Responding, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Alh. Abubakar Bawa-Bwari, aaid he was delighted by the visit of the ambassador because the ministry was the second, after Agriculture, to be visited by the diplomat following his assumption of office only a month ago.
He said Russia had been a development partner of Nigeria and the relationship was what led to the establishment of Ajaokuta Steel Plant whose objectives had unfortunately not been realised to date. He expressed optimism that with the priority being accorded it by government now, those dreams will soon come to pass.
Bwari, explained that, Shebarshin choice of visit showed that he was following developments in the country, “as the present government is giving serious attention to other economically viable sectors, especially Agriculture and mining in the quest to diversify the economy.”
He said the company was in Nigeria and contributed immensely to mineral exploration efforts from1968 till 1983 when it closed business and left, adding that they are most welcome to Nigeria.
“I also recall that Russia was involved in the Aluminium Smelter Plant in Ikot-Abasi, and I believe that all the issues around that project have almost been resolved.
“I believe our relationship with with Russia will not stop on those two plants, especially now that JSC Zarubezhgeologia has been reintroduced to continue geological survey activities in the country,” the minister said.