Revamping Ajaokuta Steel Plant
IMAGE: Ajaokuta Steel Plant »
To commence full-scale production of liquid steel and other associated materials in Ajaokuta Steel Company, its management recently signed series of Memorandum of Understanding with reputable firms around the world. Timothy Ajiboye who was on a facility tour of the company writes about the efforts to revamp it
In 2011, during his working visit to Kogi State, President Goodluck Jonathan gave the people of the state and indeed all Nigerians cheering news that Ajaokuta steel plant was dear to his heart and that during his tenure the steel plant will commence full production.
He had said during that visit that “Ajaokuta steel plant is the bedrock of the nation’s industrialisation. I want to assure the good people of Kogi State that my administration is committed to the timely completion of the steel plant to serve the purpose that it was establish to serve as the bedrock of the nation development in 1979”.
In furtherance of that assurance, President Jonathan on the 13th November, 2012, set up a 16-man interim management committee to manage the affairs of the steel plant.
Indeed, THISDAY visit to the company recently revealed that life has returned to the steel company.
In contrast to what is believed by many that the company is moribund, the steel plant is not moribund as most of the equipment are still in workable conditions just as the plant continues to contribute to the gross domestic earnings of the country from the production of steel products and servicing of spare parts for notable organisations such as Kaduna Refinery and many cement factories.
Speaking with journalists during a recent facility tour of the company, the Sole Administrator of the plant, Mr. Isah Onobere said that the technology use in the establishment of the steel plant is based on the age-long steel making tradition of blast furnace such as basic oxygen furnace (BOF) and it is being developed on the backward integration system. He added that a number of the completed units of the steel plant have been put into use between 1983 and 2008 and these units have contributed positively to the economy of the nation.
Further, he said: “The total world crude steel production as at December 2012 was 1.5billion tonnes and 70 per cent was produced through the basic oxygen furnace technology, the blast furnace, so if as at December 2012 the world crude steel production of about 70 per cent was achieved through this technology then the technology in Ajaokuta remains the most acceptable and applied technology in iron making process which has the capability of process even the least acceptable grades of iron ore and it’s quite flexible in operation”.
He informed journalists that notwithstanding the long years of partial operation of the steel plant, the technical readiness already achieved has not diminished significantly as preservation of equipment and facilities are constantly undertaken, stressing that equipment and facilities in the plant are robust, rugged and designed with 25 per cent safety factor such as similar plants in Russia and Ukraine that have been in operation for over 100 years.
THISDAY gathered that in 2010 there was a technical audit of the plant and it was estimated that about $1.2 billion will be required to achieve the total rehabilitation, completion and commissioning of the plant. Of the amount, $ 513 million is for the steel plant while the balance of $687 million is for external infrastructure.
The technical audit report obtained by THISDAY indicated that, “mechanically, the equipment inside the steel plant are generally in good conditions, but some facilities such as electricity and water are deteriorating and must be replaced, upgraded or modernised”.
It is in this light that the management of the steel plant signed a number of Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with series of firms both foreign and locally to reactivate and operationalise the completed units of the plant in the circumstance of zero budgets and retraining of staff to ensure better and effective performance in their duties.
Some of the MoUs is between MZV of Nigeria/ ZSM of Ukraine on the reactivation and operation on billet conversion which was signed on the 12th September, 2013 and the company had already mobilized to site while another MoU is between REPROM Company Nigeria Ltd on the Light Section Mill (LSM) signed on the 5th March 2013 for the reactivation and operation while the technical team from Ukraine arrived at the plant site on August 26th, 2013 and have been reactivating the Light Section Mill with local engineering personnel.
Also, the plant entered into MoU with Industrial Training Fund (ITF) for training and manpower development at the Metallurgical Training centre (MTC) for the national industrial skill development programme being undertaken by the Federal Government of Nigeria to train artisans in all the states of the federation.
“The MTC would be used for Kogi State training in the first instance in the areas of welding and fabrication, furniture making and carpentry of which the steel plant has the core competence, the MoU was signed on the 3rd July 2013”.
THISDAY equally gathered that another major MoU is between the Associated Global Matrix Limited for the use of Ajaokuta steel plant tank farm for the storage and distribution of petroleum products which was signed on the 5th March 2013 while another MoU was signed with REPROM with the intention of servicing the thermal power plant (TPP) and to commence operation to generate at least 25MW of electric power Phase 1 while in the phase 11 will be in respect of the Oxygen plant and the TPP for the complete rehabilitation of the Thermal Power Plant to enable the plant generate electric power at its rated capacity of 110MW which is currently pending ministerial approval.
In order to make the steel plant as an integrated entity, the sole administrator explained that the Central Technical Archives (CTA) of the plant which houses technical drawing and documents pertaining to the plant had been equipped to capture all available data electronically, stressing that this is to ensure safe storage and ease of retrieval.
“This is in view of the ultimate objective of achieving integrated commissioning of the steel plant, specifically, a wide format scanner XEROX 6705 machine was procured for the upgrading the capabilities of the Central Technical Archives (CTA).
“The equipment is a high definition machine which scans, plots and copies documents of wide range of sizes, all plant and equipment drawing and other plant information hitherto on hard copies are now properly stored on soft copies, the CTA is also being networked for access by all shops in the steel plant,” he said.
He added that, “this project of upgrading the Central Technical Archives (CTA) to its present status has been on the drawing board for the past 18 years”.
Also, the National President of the Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association (ISSSAN), Comrade Saliu Maliki Otori commended the federal government and the plant sole administrator for their commitment to the completion of the steel plant through the various MoUs that is aimed at reactivating some of the completed units of the plant.
He however appealed to the federal government to provide level playing ground in the area of concession and tariff granting between both public and private steel companies in the country, urged the federal government to insist on the use of local contents like iron and steel and other locally product as a means of expending the steel industries in the country.
Article Credit: Thisdaylive