President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, July 16, lamented the loss of revenue due to the activities of illegal gold mining and smuggling in the country.
He also revealed that the country lost about $3bn to the smuggling of the product between 2012 and 2018.
President Buhari also stated that the improvement in the gold-mining sector would generate 250,000 jobs and over $500m annually in royalties and taxes to the Federal Government.
This was contained in a statement issued by his media aide, Femi Adesina; who explained that the President disclosed these at the presentation of locally mined gold bars by the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative in Abuja.
Buhari was said to have also at the presentation affirmed his regime’s commitment to the establishment of gold refineries in Nigeria.
He said the initiative would support efforts at the creation of jobs for Nigerians; diversifying the revenue base, and improving foreign exchange reserves.
The President said, ‘‘With the implementation of the PAGDMI schemes which will result in the set-up of accredited gold; buying centres across key mining areas; artisanal miners and SMEs engaged in mining will be able to capture the value of their work.
‘‘These operations will help in diversifying our revenue base. The sale of gold by artisanal miners and SMEs at accredited centres will help the government in realising royalties; and taxes from the sale of these assets.
‘‘These developments will also help in improving our foreign reserves by enabling the Central Bank of Nigeria to increase the amount of gold in its reserves.”
Buhari said efforts were being made to enable the setting up of gold refineries in Nigeria.
He expressed optimism that these measures would lead to the creation of additional job opportunities across the gold value chain; and also help the nation capture the additional value created from the gold refining process.
The President said the PAGMI, which was inaugurated in 2019, was well timed, considering the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and Nigeria in particular.
‘‘In responding to this challenge, it is therefore paramount that we strengthen our efforts at implementing policies; and programmes that will enable greater diversification of the Nigerian economy.
‘‘Given our current estimated gold reserves of over 200m ounces, most of which have not been exploited; developing sustainable programmes that will catalyse increased investment in the extraction; and refining of gold sourced from mines in Nigeria is indeed vital.”
Buhari explained that PAGMDI would support job creation efforts particularly for artisanal miners; by providing them with a guaranteed offtake by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He added that efforts were being made to support artisanal miners in improving the standard of the gold that would be sold to the apex bank.
The CBN paid for and received an international standard; but locally sourced 12.5kg gold bar (artisanally-mined in Nigeria) worth N268m for its reserves at the event.