Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on Thursday said the mining and exploration of bitumen in the state would commence before the end of the year.
Akeredolu made this known in Akure during a courtesy visit by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Paul Arkwright.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Irele Local Government Area of Ondo State has a huge deposit of bitumen said to be the largest in Africa and second largest in the world.
NAN also reports that the Federal Government had awarded a mining licence to Ondo State Government on July 18, 2017.
The governor said equipment for mining were already being shipped into the country, while the South West Bitumen Company would soon debut.
Akeredolu further said Internally Generated Revenue in the state would be better only when economic activities pick up.
He said: “We are trying and the IGR has improved a little, but it could still be better.
“We will make the best of what we have.
“Ours is a civil service state.
“We are just trying to bring in one or two industries to shore up our IGR.”
Earlier, Arkwright said the governorship election scheduled to hold on Saturday in Ekiti State must be free, fair, peaceful, credible and acceptable to all.
Arkwright said he would lead a large group of observers from the British High Commission in Abuja and Lagos to monitor the exercise.
He urged security agencies to ensure residents of Ekiti State were protected before, during and after the election.
He said: “Security personnel have the responsibility to ensure the safety of lives of every citizen of the state.
“Citizens of the state should be allowed to freely vote according to their conscience for any candidate of their choice and their votes must also be made to count.
“We do not support any political party, but we do support a credible process and we are here to observe that.”
The ambassador added that he was in Ondo State to discuss some of the economic opportunities available in the state.
Arkwright pointed out that creating jobs, especially for the youths, would go a long way in developing the state and boosting its economy.
He said: “More young Nigerians are fast coming up into the job market, so creating jobs and investing in employment opportunities for them is a priority for me.
“Bringing British expertise and companies into the state are also ways to help reduce the rate of unemployment in the state and the county at large.”
Arkwright further stated that the British Government would assist the state to revive its cocoa industry.