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Nigeria Will Emerge Major Gold Producer in West Africa –Minister

By Eric Ojo, Abuja

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite has declared that Nigeria will soon become a major gold producing hub in the West African sub-region.

The minister said the development will diversify the country’s revenue away from crude oil and create jobs for its teeming youthful population.

In a statement on Monday by his Senior Assistant on Media, Ayodeji Adeyemi, to mark his first year in office, he applauded President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for its job creation drive.

Adegbite, who was appointed last August noted that the ministry had created a business friendly and an enabling environment in the sector for the creation of jobs.

He also disclosed that government was creating an enabling environment across the gold value chain.

“Indeed the international roadshows we have had in the past have borne fruits. Today we have Thor exploration in Osun State through the Segilola Gold project, which is projected to start producing in the first half of next year. The project is expected to create about 400 direct jobs and 1000 indirect jobs”, he said.

He added that the government had licensed two gold refineries that would refine gold to the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) standard.

The minister further explained that by projection, a slew of industries would spring up across the gold value chain, noting that “numerous industries will spring off when our gold economy becomes full-fledged”.  

Some of them, according to him, would include equipment leasing and repairs, logistic and transport as gold requires a specialized means of transport, security, insurance, aggregators, and so on.

“These would ultimately create tens of thousands of jobs. Indeed, the government of President Buhari is all about job creation”, he further explained.

Adegbite also revealed that the country, for the first time had mined, processed and refined gold under the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI), for use as part of Nigeria’s external reserves.

He said the first batch of the artisanally-mined gold bars, to be purchased by the Central Bank, was unveiled at a presentation ceremony to President Buhari on July 16, 2020.

“PAGMI will result in the creation of thousands of new mining and formalized jobs, leading to poverty alleviation for many households. Under the scheme, artisanal and small-scale gold miners will earn more from higher productivity, better recovery rates through mechanization of operations, and better access to reliable geological information”, he stressed.

He also disclosed that the ministry had initiated  a process that would lead to local capacity development in the production of barite, adding that the ministry has employed a consultant saddled with the responsibility to develop a roadmap for the sector.  

The minister projected that an estimate of over five thousand jobs would be created when the nation attains self-sufficiency in local barite production.

 “Presently, the barite that is used in the oil and gas industry is imported. But we are resolved to reverse this trend. As you may know barite is a critical weighting material in drilling fluids due to its high specific gravity.

“We are working on a Roadmap towards a sustainable barite industry in Nigeria to support, regulate and monitor stake holders along the barite value chain. This process will identify and assist local mining and milling companies which would ultimately lead to the creation of jobs and save the nation foreign exchange expended on importing barite”, he added.

On Ajaokuta Steel Plant, he explained that the global travel restriction occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, was preventing the technical experts from Russia from coming over to the plant to conduct an audit of the steel plant.

Adegbite however assured that the technical audit of the plant would be done as soon as the flight restriction was over.

 “I am hopeful that Ajaokuta will come on stream before the end of President Buhari’s tenure and when that happens it is poised to create thousands of jobs”, he noted.

The minister also observed that the past one year had been a learning experience for him, adding that people have been gracious to him by availing him of their knowledge.

“I have learnt a lot and I am still learning. It has been a wonderful experience so far. I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for giving me this opportunity to serve Nigerians”, he stressed.

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