By John Okeke
The Federal Government has called for collaboration and cooperation of West African leaders in monitoring and halting illegal trans-border trade of solid minerals within the West African Sub-region with a view to deriving their maximum economic benefit.
The Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, stated this at the Opening Ceremony of Ouaga Dore, Gold West Africa in Burkina Faso recently.
Ogah, who was a special invitee of the Burkinabe Government, while explaining efforts being made to diversify Nigeria economy, through the Mineral Sector, especially the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initative (PAGMI), said for the sub-region to properly harness the economic benefit of the abundant mineral resources, efforts must be made to curb illegal exploitation and transaction of minerals in the sub- region.
He emphasized the need for sustainable peace and security in the sub-region to enable it leverage and harness the gold value chain for industrialization, wealth and job creation for its teeming youths.
The Minister applauded the Burkina Faso Government for putting in place the right policies, which had increased investment in the mining sector of the country, and led to the development of the country’s artisanal and small-scale gold production, as attested by the event.
According to him, “You have made a quantum leap in the development of your artisanal and small-scale gold production and today’s presentation of refined gold bar medallions speaks volume to the international investors.”
He described the Gold festival and presentation of Gold bars sourced mainly from artisanal operators in the country, as “a significantly bold step in developing the Gold and Mining value chain and deepening integration across the West African economic corridor.”
He appreciated the valuable contribution of Burkina Faso”s mining partners like Messrs. Kian Smith for their efforts leading to the remarkable milestone. He said Messrs. Kian Smith is a major player in the Nigerian mining sector as it holds a gold Refinery license and Minerals Buying Centres.
Earlier, the Minister of Mining and Quarries, Burkina Faso, Oumarou Idani thanked the Hon. Minister for honouring the invitation and disclosed that the country is endowed with gold and manganese which are its chief sources of its revenue generation.
Mr Idani stated that his country is working on attracting investors as well as supporting and promoting the production of gold jewelleries for export within and outside Africa, saying “we have a history of gold jewellers craft men in the country”.
The Nigerian Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Mr. Zachariah Mallam Ifu, said the Nigerian Embassy is looking at areas of collaboration that would facilitate bilateral transactions between Nigeria and Burkina Faso in the solid minerals sector.