Justice Iyasere, Warri
Premium Steel and Mines Limited, Ovwian-Aladja, Delta State has disclosed that it was deploying modern cutting edge technology to drive the steel production processes in the erstwhile Delta Steel Company, adding that the company was doing total turn-around of the company technological base in line with modern reality in the sector for better and more efficient performance of the company.
Addressing newsmen in Warri weekend, General Manager of PSML, Mechanical, Engr Samuel Tanno maintained that the rolling mill which began production since last year was wearing a new look as everything in the unit was product of modern technology as all the old machines and equipment in the sector had been replaced with modern ones.
Engr Tanno added that the company was taking time to rehabilitate the Steel Melting Unit (SMS) because of the need to install modern and better technology to drive the section as most of the existing machines and equipment cannot fit into the demand of steel production in the modern sense.
He lamented that the recent five per cent increment on imported steel raw materials as well as high electricity tariff and unimaginable ground-rent charges among others were killing the growth of the steel industry, urging the federal government to urgently intervene to save the industry from total collapse.
Engr. Tanno, while appealing to the federal government to grant steel companies in the country enabling environment to thrive, called on host communities to support PSML in its vowed determination to ensure that the steel plant was fully back to life.
Speaking on the level of production currently at the plant, Tanno added, “As we have said, we are doing backward integration. The rolling mills even if they produced one million tons, only a third of it will roll in our rolling mills. That was the original plan of government.
“But for whatever reason, we have not produced more than 20 per cent of installed capacity right from the days of DSC. Whatever we have produced even now runs within 20 per cent capacity.
“For now, we are importing billets. We have three shipments already for this period and we are expecting the fourth shipment. For now, we are producing construction steels for railways, stadia, bridges and buildings.
“Our major customers at the moment are those into constructions such as railways and the rest. Since we are importing billets for now, we are producing ten thousand tons per month. We are still at 1/3 installed capacity. We’ll continue at this level but we know this increase when we have our own billets once the SMS is rehabilitated. This is the phase we are going into presently. In a matter of weeks, our technical partners will be in Nigeria for the business of resuscitating the SMS. Once we scale that hurdle, the plant will be in a better position to employ more hands as we produce billets for production of rebars for both the local and international markets’’, he said.
He stated that many steel companies in the country were folding up owing to the high tariff imposed on importation of raw materials for steel production in the country, calling on the federal government to grant waivers as a form of incentive for the growth of the steel sector.
“Recently, there was five per cent increment on tariff for importation of billets. It is killing. It is just like someone strangulating us to death. You could image why many of them (Steel Companies) had to close up in places like Lagos. Government should look at this area and bring down the tariff and then make the business more accommodating so that more people can be employed.
“Electricity is another constraint killing the steel industry in this country. In fact, the tariff on electricity is very huge. Going through BEDC is like 100 per cent increase. What we are paying now is not sustainable and not economic to our business.
“Also, government should also give us (steel companies) some space. Ground rent is another one. If I tell you what we are going through on ground rent issue is terrible. What we are saying is that government should give us enabling environment so that the steel companies can thrive.
“Federal Government should give us waver for some time. At least, you are having a company of this nature; it should be nurtured for a period of five or six years with enabling environment to thrive and thereafter come up with the tariffs.” Engr Tanno added