By Gabriel Ewepu
THE Federal Government has been called upon to expedite actions in developing the gemstone value chain in order to generate foreign exchange and create additional jobs opportunities in Nigeria.
Mr. Oyewola Oworu, a mining expert disclosed this I his paper – ‘Structuring the Fair Trade Gem & Jewelry Industry in Nigeria’ – at the 2017 African Gems and Jewelry Exhibition & Seminar, AGJES, held in Abuja.
He said that: “Nigeria has a variety of gemstone resources with huge undefined reserves of Tourmaline, Sapphire, Aquamarine, Topaz, Garnet, Amethyst and Emerald within the various geological suites of the Basement Complex rocks.
“The Federal Government through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in addition to the various incentives already granted mining operators in Nigeria, should approve the continuous support and promotion of Nigeria as one of the world’s hub for gems and jewellery and as gems and jewellery shopping destination for overseas traders/tourists.
“There are a number of structures that need to be established that will enhance the gemstone and jewellery industry in Nigeria. Set up training facilities within the Department of Geology or Mining for a degree in Gemology, improve infrastructures, encourage and promote research and development, ensure that geological exploration reports on gemstone occurrence are generated and verified prior to issuance of permits and leases.
“Develop by training Skilled Craftsmanship in Gems and Jewellery, beautiful designs from local Gem and Jewellery business operators, acquire modern technology, skilled cutters, enforce low cost of production by standardized rates, ensure and enforce standards, establish gem grading and testing institute/laboratory of world standard, encourage team work and healthy competitions, government promotion – government should undertake gem and jewellery shows, fairs and seminars and invite both local and international associations involved in gem and jewellery, ensure a well-organized gemstone mining sector.
“In a very true sense, this group of miners is synonymous with illegal mining. This can be verified by analysing the number of exploration licenses and/or mining leases approved and issued by the Mining Cadastre Office for semi-precious or gemstone mining.
“The results from such activities and practice include low productivity, low quality, loss of resources at depth, lack of interest from potential big operators, lack of technical data on resource definition, loss of revenue, and unemployment.”