Says 10, 000 technical staff needed to commence operation
Begs Senate to support, make plant work
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Sole Administrator, SA, Ajaokuta Steel Company, ASCL, Abdul-Akaba Sumaila, weekend, disclosed that the over 40 years technology installed by the Russians and Ukrainians under the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR, is not obsolete as being adjudged by many people.
Sumaila made this known in his welcome remarks during the visit of a Senate delegation led by Senate Leader, Sen Yahaya Abdullahi, and also the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite, at the Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi State, who had earlier visited National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, on the previous day.
Speaking further, he (Sumaila) made it known that despite four decades of the largest steel plant in West Africa was built to last 100 years compared to the steel plant in Russia that had lasted for 115 years.
He also added that Ajaokuta Steel Company sits on 24, 000 hectares of land that is bigger than Abuja Town, which is 17, 000. Ajaokuta has 60 kilometers road network; 67 kilometer of rail network between the plants to move materials from one point to the other; river-port or jetty; 10, 000 housing units, which over 50 per cent is completed and of very high quality; and about 23 estates.
He said: “I want to talk about the popular saying whether this plant is obsolete. The concept of engineering generally is universal, technology and application do not change or get obsolete they get improved efficiency they get. In the case of the steel industry, the heart of this plant is the blast furnace.
“We know that the world is dynamic. If you look at the last 40 years we have moved from analogue to digital to PLCs. Nobody will make an investment in a plant in any form whether you want to build a factory for 10 years.
“So plant of this magnitude from the design stage there are provisions for modenisation every 10 years. The plant you have here is a brand new plant. So talking about obsolesce never really exists.
“So by implication by design this plant is to last over 100 years, and by our recent technical audit by 2018 when I came in the best way to manage any system is to know the status of that system. What we have done is to carry out the technical audit by assessing the status of the plant, and our technical took about four months.”
Meanwhile, he stressed that the heart of the steel plant is the blast furnace and that has been a technology used in most countries across the world following high capacity production of steel it has.
“The technology of the steel plant is basically the blast furnace. As of today, the major steel plants in the world use blast furnace technology it is rugged, simple, use low-quality iron ore and it is actually very efficient.
“The total world steel production in 2019 was 1.8 billion tonnes. The blast furnace technology that is being used in China, the United States produced about 70 per cent of this and is the same technology we have here.
“So the implication is that in 2019 the same technology we have here has to produce steel of about 1.3 billion tonnes. These facts are verifiable.”
He further stated that “What you do in the production planning is you continue to modernize, and luckily for us at Ajaokuta Steel we have an enviable workforce and thorough professionals that in the last 10 years only on monthly basis this plants are being by-run.
“Also we carried out the human resource audit. The human resource audit is to identify the skill of the workforce we have which is about 2, 400. Why do we do that? So that we know the requirement, a number of engineers we have; their profession, where they did they come from, how long have they being in the system, and the number of training gone through.”
However, the ASCL boss said 100, 000 technical staff is needed to commence operation of the various phases of production of the plant.
“By design this plant the first phase is about 1.3 million tonnes liquid steel; it requires 10, 000 technical staff, to commence that operation. The second phase is going to be 2.6 million tonnes, and the final stage is going to be 5.2 million tonnes of liquid steel”, he said.
He also appealed to the Senate delegation to support the move by President Muhammadu Buhari last year at Sochi where he met with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin on a government to government arrangement to make the steel giant walk and run after 40 years of crawling.
“I want to appeal to the Senate Leader and members of the delegation, we need your support to ensure that the new strategy because the President of this country was in Sochi sometime in October last year to seek from his Russian counterpart government to government arrangement even the original builder, the TPE, to come and complete, modernize and operate this plant for a period of time”, he stated.