President Muhammadu Buhari has said improved gold mining operations in the country would generate over $500 million annually in royalties and taxes to the Federal Government while creating no fewer than 250,000 jobs for citizens.

He disclosed this at the official presentation of locally mined gold bars by the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMDI) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.

physically by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari;  governors of Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai; Kebbi, Bagudu Atiku; Osun, Gboyega Oyetola; deputy governor of Zamfara, Mahdi Gusau, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; and Executive Secretary of the Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF), Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi among other officials.

President Buhari reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to establishing more gold refineries in Nigeria, saying the initiative would support efforts at job creation for Nigerians, diversifying the economy’s revenue base, and improving foreign exchange reserves.

While reiterating the determination of the Federal Government to combat illegal mining activities, the president lamented that Nigeria lost over $3billion from 2012 – 2018 due to illegal mining and smuggling of gold.

‘‘With the implementation of the PAGDMI scheme which will result in the setting up 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. 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 but will also provide a hedge against inflation and other economic volatilities associated with foreign currencies that are held in our reserves,’’ the President said.

Buhari noted that in addition to the potential revenue gains that would occur from mining operations, efforts are being made to set up gold refineries in Nigeria.

On environmental degradation, Buhari pledged that the government would pay close attention to safety and environmental measures to protect workers and citizens.

Buhari also commended all stakeholders involved in the PAGMI for their painstaking efforts in developing a programme towards improved sourcing and refining of high-quality gold bars, derived from minefields in the country. He said the PAGMI, launched in 2019, was well-timed, considering the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and indeed the Nigerian economy.

He noted that COVID-19 fallout and the containment measures designed to slow its spread had led to a slowdown in global growth, which is projected to decline into negative territory for the first time since the Great Depression.

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