Women assured 60% employment in processing, buying centres
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite, Tuesday, disclosed that the Federal Government has opened a new vista for Nigerian investors including foreign investors in Gold business in the mining sector under the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative, PAGMI.
Adegbite made this known during a media interactive session held at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja, where he said it is high time to take advantage of the opportunities in Gold business as a lot has been done to make the sector a new haven of profitability which is purely private sector driven.
He also added that with the soaring price of gold at the international market, which currently is about $2, 000 per ounce and projections also have it that by 2021 it will get to $3, 000 per ounce, which no businessman in Nigeria should miss.
He pointed out that the value chain is massive including licensing for Gold refineries, processing centres and buying centres are all open for the private sector, which the Gold belt in the country is heavily endowed, and five states are currently in the pilot scheme, and that two companies have been granted licenses for Gold Refinery, and construction have commenced in Ogun and Abuja respectively, and more will be issued to interested business firms, and said the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is the current off-taker, and other firms too can off-take Gold.
He said: “So essentially what this gives to us is that in future we do not have to take the Gold out of the country to refine like we did this time which it was refined in Turkey. These two refineries who gained the certification so that they can produce this kind of bullion and then Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, can buy.
“Essentially in all furtherance our mandate that is to create employment for our people from the value chain I mentioned; refinery, buying centres will of course create employment.
“Furthermore, the artisanal miners who are bringing out this Gold will also be better enumerated because they get better compensation for their wins thereby encouraging others. Through this process create employment, and at the same time generate revenue for the government. How do we do that?
“Apart from the little royalties and taxes government get is also a way for the country earn foreign exchange without having to sell crude oil like in the past, but through this Gold is highly valued now as of yesterday Gold almost touched $2, 000 per ounce and is on the rise, and people are even speculating that Gold might hit $3, 000.
“This should be taken over by private sector initiative. The government has proven that is possible and chosen some state as in the pilot. We encourage individuals and get Nigerians interested in mining, and we can put our money in mining and of course reap bountiful rewards from this.
“A lot of people are putting their money in Gold. What this does for Nigeria is that CBN acquires the LBMA bullion in Naira, and of course, it adds to our foreign reserves. So we don’t have to sell crude oil to add to our reserves, we can add to our foreign reserves from our Gold that is mined in Nigeria.
“We have some investors already who have shown interest and have undergone some licensing and of course room is still open for more people to come into the business, come to the Ministry, you can be part of the process as a buying centre licensed by the Ministry once you fulfill the obligations and of course the responsible resourcing is very important.
The Minister also added that the Ministry is already fulfilling its mandate of diversifying the economy from oil and gas to solid minerals, which Gold is leading and other industrial minerals.
“That is fulfilling our mandate, diversifying from oil and gas, creating employment for people and at the same time generating revenue for the government. This is the major mandate for the Ministry”, he said.
Meanwhile, Secretary, PAGMI, Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi, disclosed that 60 per cent employment at the processing and buying centres will be for women, and also artisanal miners will be engaged in best practices.
According to Shinkafi artisanal miners will be carried along for participation under the programme, which will reduce the issue of smuggling of the commodity.
She added that a US firm known globally will equip the buying centres with state of the art equipment, and the Gold production, processing, and buying is purely a private sector affair.
She said: “The main policy is to empower artisanal miners and give them better value to of what they are doing, right now it is poverty-driven eking out a living a and they are doing it blindly.
“Nobody went to school to learn how to an artisanal miner. I think it is borne out of poverty and necessity. So that can be a desperate thing and it has its negative side effect.
“The policy is geared towards limiting those negative ramifications that come from artisanal mining. I need to make a distinction here; artisanal mining is not illegal mining. There are illegal and artisanal miners. It is a subtle distinction but it does exist.
“So 30 per cent we have registered so far are women out of the first badge in the pilot states, and we are including women at the processing level of the final stage at the sales and entrepreneurship levels.
“We have made a deliberate policy that 60 per cent minimum of the people who will be employed at these processing and buying centres will be women.
“On the market share, we have entered a figure of $3 billion over a period of six years. We are looking at an intervention a little over 50 per cent. We are looking up to doing 3 tonnes of Gold by the end of this year and in the subsequent year about 10 tonnes.”