The South West Bitumen Exploration Limited (SWB), an indigenous company which is set to commence modular exploitation of Africa’s largest bitumen deposits in the southern part of Ondo state is targeting an output of 50,000 tonnes monthly.
Speaking with newsmen the company’s mining engineer, Akinyeke said the firm will deliver 20,000 tonnes of bitumen in monthly at the first instance, adding that when it is stabilised, an output of 50,000 tonnes monthly will be realized.
Newsmen were weekend conducted round the operational base located at Lamidifa in Irele Local Government Area of the State.
The firm, which has secured a 25-Year renewable Operational Mining License for the exploitation of the mineral deposit has already deployed initial processing and mining equipment to the operational base.
Also speaking, another representative of the company, Engr. Adeiya Oluwatominiyi said earth moving equipment like bulldozers, excavators and wheel loaders have been brought for the mining of the bitumen.
While describing the process as a modular one likened to a pilot one, he explained that unlike exploitation of Petroleum, the bitumen in the state is in Tar Sand which can be excavated from the topsoil and taken to the yard for processing.
According to him “the processing equipment are German-made and done with the exact requirement for the exploitation of he particular type of bitumen in the state.
“We have brought the earth moving equipment like the bulldozer, escavator and the wheel loaders.
“We use of bulldozer for the clearing of the identified outcrop after which we take the escavator to extract the tar sand and stockpile them in the yard for processing
“The type of bitumen we have is tar sand. After we must have deployed the bulldozer, the escalator will load the tipper and bring it here for processing. This is where we will be doing the processing.
“This is a pilot case. It is modular exploitation. What we have in Nigeria is tar sand bitumen. Not like in Petroleum when you are tapping from it to get bitumen. We are not getting it from the cracking of anything. What we need to do is to heat it with the required technology.”
Speaking, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo said the Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu administration has been pursuing the exploitation of the bitumen and the establishment of the deep seaport.
Ojogo noted that the bitumen exploitation has started taking shape with the assurance of its reality, stressing that this is the first time any government in the state will be expending resources on the exploitation.
According to the commissioner; ”the mere sighting the equipment, one would think it was for construction unless there is the technical knowledge to understand their functions in mining.
“What they are trying to do is a pilot project. This is the first time any company will expend so much on this project. This is the first time a company will take the license and efforts and commitment would be seen unlike in the past where people take the licence and go home to sleep.
“You know they cannot just jump over several fences and we are almost sailing through our investment destination. As a state, what we require is bitumen exploitation and deep seaport. We are into this now and it is very reassuring that Governor Akeredolu will not rest until this is achieved.
“I know with what they have done, more and more firms will be ready to invest in this. It’s not easy to deploy this kind of technology and equipment. In a matter of six, seven months, we will be getting large production of bitumen from here. ” Ojogo said.
On his part, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Investment and Development, Boye Oyewumi described the development as a statement of result and not a statement of efforts.
Oyewunmi explained that the intention of the Akeredolu administration is to make Ondo State the capital of bitumen in Africa.
He said “the fact that the barriers have been broken is an attestation that the government is ready to do what others thought was impossible.
Oyewunmi thanked “the Federal government for the help rendered in the course of moving the equipment while assuring the Southwest Bitumen that the state is the most conducive place to do business.