By John Okeke
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite has said the ministry’s door is wide open for those who wish to get license to go into Gold mining business in the country.
The Minister said this yesterday during the Interactive Session on the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI).
He said the initiative is government resolve to boost the economy through mining business.
“PAGMI is a presidential initiative to kick-start the Gold sector economy in Nigeria. It is a private sector issue normally for this kind of business, the Ministry and government are regulators, but essentially what PAGMI is all about is a prove of concept to show that is possible.
“The President set up that initiative, funded it and of course a week and half ago, and is the result and prove of that conscience that it is possible.
“The government is not in business as such. We have some investors already who have shown interest and have undergone some licensing and of course room is still open for more people to come into the business, come to the Ministry, you can be part of the process as a buying centre licensed by the Ministry once you fulfill the obligations and of course the responsible resourcing is very important”, he said.
He continued: “A lot of people are putting their money in gold. What this does for Nigeria is that CBN acquires the LDMA bullion in Naira, and of course it adds to our foreign reserves. So we don’t have to sell crude oil to add to our reserves, we can add to our foreign reserves from our gold that is mined in Nigeria.
“That is fulfilling our mandate, diversifying from oil and gas, creating employment for people and at the same time generating revenue for government. This is the major mandate for the Ministry.
“This should be taken over by private sector initiative. Government has proven that is possible and chosen some state as in the pilot. We encourage individuals and get Nigerians interested in mining, and we can put our money in mining and of course reap bountiful rewards from this”, he said.
He said that the initiative will create employment for Nigerians.
“Essentially in all furtherance our mandate that is to create employment for our people from the value chain I mentioned; refinery, buying centres will of course create employment.
“Furthermore, the artisanal miners who are bringing out this Gold will also be better enumerated because they get better compensation for their wins thereby encouraging others. Through this process create employment, and at the same time generate revenue for government.
“How do we do that? Apart from the little royalties and taxes government get is also a way for the country earn foreign exchange without having to sell crude oil like in the past, but through this gold is highly valued now as of yesterday gold almost touched $2, 000 per ounce and is on the rise, and people are even speculating that gold might hit $3, 000”.
Also, the Executive Secretary, PAGMI, Fatima Shinkafi said: “The main policy is to empower artisanal miners and give them better value to of what they are doing, right now it is poverty driven eking out a living a and they are doing it blindly.
“Nobody went to school to learn how to an artisanal miner. I think it is borne out of poverty and necessity. So that can be a desperate thing and it has its negative side effect.
“The policy is geared towards limiting those negative ramifications that come from artisanal mining. I need to make a distinction here; artisanal mining is not illegal mining. There are illegal and artisanal miners. It is a subtle distinction but it does exist”, she said.