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Buhari decries $3b loss to illegal gold mining

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presides over virtual Buhari presides launch of Gold Purchase Programme at the State House, Abuja. Photo: TWITTER/NIGERIAGOV

Says refineries to generate 250,000 jobs, $500m yearly
•Stakeholders urge genuine repositioning of sector

Six weeks after The Guardian exclusively reported how illegal gold mining was undermining Nigeria economically, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, decried the activities of the smugglers, leading to a revenue loss of $3 billion between 2012 and 2018.

He, however, said his administration was up and doing to redress the situation.

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Speaking at the official presentation of locally mined gold bars by the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMDI) in Abuja, Buhari reaffirmed government’s commitment to establishing gold refineries in the country.

According to him, improved mining would generate no fewer than 250,000 jobs and over $500 million yearly in royalties and taxes.

He said the initiative would also support efforts at diversifying the nation’s revenue base and improving its foreign exchange reserves.

His words: ‘” With the implementation of the PAGDMI scheme, which will result in the establishment of accredited gold-buying centres across key mining areas, artisanal miners and SMEs engaged in mining will be able to capture the value of their work.

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“These operations will help in diversifying our revenue base. The sale of gold by artisanal miners and SMEs at accredited centres will help the government in realising royalties and taxes from the sale of these assets.

“These developments will also help in improving our foreign reserves by enabling the Central Bank of Nigeria to increase the amount of gold in its reserves.

“These gold assets, which will be purchased in naira, will not only help to bolster our international reserves, it will also provide a hedge against inflation and other economic volatilities associated with foreign currencies that are held in our reserves.”

Meanwhile, National President of the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Kabiru Mohammed, has urged genuine repositioning of the sector.

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In an interview yesterday, he charged financial institutions to support miners in improving their capacity.

Mohammed noted that mining was a capital-intensive venture that required the requisite financial backing for modern equipment, technologies and technical know-how.

On his part, General Secretary of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), Dr. Akinade Olatunji, called for a robust exploration programme to determine the quantity and quality of the country’s gold occurrences.

He sought massive investment in extensive examination to generate the needed data for informed decisions.

The don pointed out that this would enable the nation to harness the commodity maximally, adding that efforts were in place to achieve this.

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