The federal government has concluded plans to train forty Nigerians in the art of Gold Jewelry making to boost the nation’s economy with foreign experts.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite, stated this while briefing newsmen on the recently launched Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative ,PAGMI, in Abuja.
He explained that the essence was to add value to the country`s gold market, create employment and boost the economy in line with Federal Government’s economy diversification programme.
Adegbite said the trained Nigerians would be going to be training the others who will also train other Nigerians across the federation.
The minister added that apart from the gold itself, the government was also looking at turning gold to Jewellery.
“We are selecting about 40 persons to be trained in Jewellery making, we are bringing in international experts and we would be picking one person per state, including the Federal Character Territory (FCT).”
PAGMI is a comprehensive artisanal and small scale gold mining development programme.
The initiative which was recently launched, was to foster the formalisation and integration of artisanal gold mining activities into the country`s legal, economic, and institutional framework.
Adegbite said that the initiative was designed to integrate social, environmental health and safety, economic, commercial, and technical considerations.
“We are making efforts as a ministry through the MinDiver project; experts would be coming into the country shortly once the ban on international air travel is lifted.
The minister, however, called on interested investors to invest in the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI), adding that it was open to interested investors.
“While the government’s proof of consent goes on, we encourage individuals, especially Nigerians who are interested in mining to put their monies into the initiative,“ Adegbite said.
Adegbite stressed that the underlining principle of every government project should be the impact it had on the people and the benefits so derived.
The minister noted that once a project was beneficial to the people it should be sustained even when there was change of government.
“Because this gold economy is good for our country, no matter the administration that comes after President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, I believe the initiative will be continued, “ he said.
The minister of state mines and steel development, Mr. Uchechukwu Ofah explained that its regulatory framework would be strengthen to up live its purposes.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary Solid Minerals Development Fund and Secretary PAGMI, Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi, said the initiative was aimed at formalising the value chain from the artisanal miners’ perspective.
Hajia Shinkafi stressed that the initiative would ensure value addition to both the private sector investors and government as well as increase the country`s foreign reserve.
According to her, Osun and Kebbi has been approved as pilot states for the initiative while bio-metric exercise has been carried out in the states.
PAGMI Secretary, said about fifty gold buying centres were established across the country at the moment, while efforts were on to equip the centres.
She added that the buying centres would serve as aggregators and would be accredited by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in partnership with PAGMI, keeping to international best practices guidelines for responsibly-sort gold.
“We want them to be profit driven, we want to bring the artisans from the dark into the light so that they don’t operate under the radar and are cheated by middle men,“ she said.
It would be recalled that this is first time artisanal-mined gold was processed and refined according to the London Bullion Market Association ,LBMA, standards in Nigeria was in June.
The standards are required for the use of gold as a reserve instrument by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
By the PAGMI initiative, the CBN will be purchasing gold that has been mined, processed and refined from miners as part of the country`s external reserves rather than allowing them sell same through meddle men.