Flags-off Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Devt Initiative
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite, at the weekend, disclosed that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, will off-take gold to boost the profitability of artisanal miners in the country.
Adegbite who was represented by the Director, Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM), Mr. Patrick Ojeka, made the disclosure in his keynote address during the flag-off of the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative, PAGMI, biometrics, in Yauri Local Government Area of Kebbi State.
According to him, the flag-off was an initiative of the Federal Government with support from the Government of Kebbi State and CBN was part of efforts to formalize and integrate activities of artisanal and small scale gold miners into the nation’s legal, economic and institutional framework.
The flag-off of PAGMI marks registration and enrollment of the first batch of artisanal miners and is expected to benefit from the initiative.
He further explained that PAGMI is an initiative and programme artisanal and small scale gold miners in Nigeria, which has Kebbi and Osun States as pilot States.
He said: “The initiative, apart from empowering the artisanal and small scale miners, would encourage and promote Nigerian processing and value addition industries.
“Through this initiative, we hope to solve the issue of disaggregation through the establishment of cooperatives, improve productivity through capacity building and the use of advanced equipment to improve the standard and quality of output.
“The Federal Government would establish buying centres with the CBN as off-taker and also integrate middlemen into the system, which would lead to higher profitability for artisanal miners.
“The Federal Government is in the process of building centralized processing centres with capabilities to produce minerals and enhance beneficiation within the country, leading to a reduction in taxes as incentives.
However, the Minister emphasized that the success of the initiative lies in the cooperation, cohesion, and commitment of stakeholders.
“The success of this initiative will only be possible through continuous cooperation, cohesion, commitment and the will of the stakeholders and people involved.
“The sustainability of this project is what we plan to achieve and all measures have been accounted for and put in place to ensure smooth implementation”, he stated.
Also speaking was the Governor of Kebbi State, Sen. Abubakar Bagudu, who also is Vice Chairman, PAGMI, commended President Muhammadu Buhari, on efforts to boost the capacity of the artisanal miners in the country under the initiative and in order to be more productive and contribute positively to the Gross Domestic Product of the country
“PAGMI is part of the government’s efforts to support the artisanal miners across the nation and eliminate illegality so that the teeming youth who are interested in mining would be supported and do their business properly, legitimately and with maximum support from the Federal Government.
“Those that would be registered are expected to be good ambassadors of the State and make proper use of whatever assistance would come their way”, Bagudu said.
Meanwhile, in an opening remark, the Executive Secretary of Solid Minerals Development Fund, Fatimah Umaru Shinkafi, who also is Secretary of PAGMI, acknowledged that the sector is currently operated by 80 per cent of artisanal miners, whose activities and the impact could no longer be ignored.
She assured them that the initiative would give them a sense of belonging including financial inclusion, capacity building, mechanization, value addition, value chain development, job creation, and others.
“We also have social investment elements in it, and part of proceeds from the programme will be plowed back into the community for community development projects such as provisions of health care services, portable water, and schools among others.
“Apart from gold, there are so many other minerals that are being exported out of the country illegally but we have started with gold, CBN will be off-taker for that, this is pioneering, it has never happened before and we hope that we get the support of local community for this program”, she stated.
She also disclosed that in a couple of months ahead hopefully the first batch of gold would be presented to President Buhari as the achievement of the initiative.