‘Nigeria losing huge revenue from illegal mining, inefficient policies’
While the officials did not disclose the estimated loss in the industry due to its current state, counterpart West Africa states lost $2billion in 2017.
Experts said increased illegal mining and unhindered encroachment by Artisanal and Small scale Miners (ASM) are the biggest challenges facing the sector.
They noted that there is still a long way to go due to the cost of mining, artisanal mining that foster black market gold, inefficient government regulations and policies.
Speaking during the Gold West Africa Conference with theme: “The future of African Gold- Developing the West African Gold Economy”, organised by Kian Smith Gold Refinery and the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the experts noted that harmonisation of regulations, implementation of stability measures, tax free carry, and license duration would boost the sector.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Abdulkadir Muazu, said Nigeria has a lot of dormant gold site, but with good policies and regulations can broaden the nation’s revenue base.
In Nigeria, gold production started in 1913, was at its peak in 1933/1934 and declined during 2nd World War period, from which it never recovered.
Indeed, over 20 old mines have been abandoned since the 1940s, which leaves gold mining an artisanal activity.
He mentioned that collaborations with private sector would address this challenge and help convert the small miners into some viable enterprise.
Lauding efforts of Kian Smith, he noted such collaborations would promote and partner the likes of Khan Smith Initiative to unlock and develop potentials in the gold value chain.
“We then move from exploitation to value addition then finance. This action in the value chain will drive maximum benefit potentially available in core mining sector.
“Gold mining is a high risk sector. It has long maturation and dominated by informal men but has the potential to take people out of poverty and create more employment. In doing this, we need to ensure that we protect our environment and the small miners or labourers to prevent exploitation at the expense of their health or that of their children,” he added.
On the need for the conference, Vice Chairman, Kian Smith Gold Refinery, Nere Teriba, said the inaugural meeting would reposition stakeholders in the region at this critical time.
She noted that despite the decline in world gold mine production, West Africa’s gold production has been increasing.
“For the region to truly benefit from this lucrative resource, it will be imperative that a vision and action plan is mapped out that ensures empowerment and sustainability, while creating an enabling environment for West Africa gold producing and trading countries to become stakeholders in global gold market,” she added.
Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Prof. Ibrahim Garba said West Africa is an emerging gold exploration investment hotspot due to its huge source of gold, iron ore, bauxite, diamonds, phosphate and uranium.
Director of Operations, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Dauda Yakuba, stressed that the critical sector of the gold value chain is the refinery; until it plays her role, there would be no monetary gain.
Yakubu said the regulatory body have adopted, trained and certified companies to meet up with international standard.
“There is need to harmonise standards that would facilitate community traded goods for conformity assessment. We have a lot of work to do especially on the value chain. We need technology boost quality and quantity; also strengthen the value chain by training the ASM, with proactive government for policies enforcement,” he added.
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