In its efforts to minimise the high rate of illegal gold mining and smuggling, the Federal Government, on Thursday, said it is currently creating a gold ecosystem, which would also increase government’s revenue from the resource, create jobs, and improve environmental and social stewardship.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite, who made this known in his keynote address at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group webinar on unlocking Nigeria’s Economic Potentials, equally pointed out some ongoing initiatives the government has designed to support the sector.
According to him, one of the initiatives is the optimisation of our mineral value chain. The ultimate objective is to minimise the export of raw materials, creating value along the chain that would increase industrial and manufacturing activities, create employment and foster skills development.
He said the webinar to discuss the opportunities and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian mining industry was timely, as the immediate focus was really to manage the health, safety, and economic risks of the pandemic as the government eases the lockdown and reopens the economy.
Architect Adegbite explained that through the ongoing Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative (PAGMI) the government is organising, formalising, and equipping Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Miners (ASGMs) in Kaduna, Kebbi, Osun, Niger and Zamfara States. Miners of precious, metallic and industrial minerals would be linked to formal markets through licensed private mineral buying centres.
The minister said two companies (Kian Smith and Dukia Gold Limited), located in Ogun State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have been granted licenses to refine gold and are in the process of building their refineries.
He said: “The double-ended shock of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent sharp decline in oil prices has led to a revenue shortfall for the country, hence bringing the mining sector to the forefront. The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has been making efforts to diversify the economy away from oil through the development of the mining and agricultural sectors. These efforts are now being fast-tracked.
“We are trying to stimulate mineral processing across the country using a cluster or hub approach. Each cluster will be provided with road and power infrastructure to encourage investors in processing and refining equipment to support a network of miners and processors.
“In the longer term, the upgrade, completion, and operation of the Ajaokuta Steel plant operations would enhance jobs and revenue generation. The project is based on a bilateral agreement between Nigeria and Russia, with funding from the Afrexim bank and the Russian Export Centre.
“With support from the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and his ethos on diversification, job creation and sustainable revenue generation, I am confident that Nigeria’s Mining Industry is on track to reach our goal of 5% GDP contribution in the next 5 years,” he assured.