FG targeting 650,000 tons gold processing capacity per annum — Minister

The Federal Government has said it’s aiming 650,000 tons per annum gold processing capacity as a measure to boost the country’s economy and generate employment.

This is even as the federal government through the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite announced that the Segilola Gold Project, which it is under construction, is Nigeria’s most advanced gold project which has capacity to process 650,000 tons per annum.

In his welcome address at the 5th annual Nigeria Mining Week on Monday, the Minister while revealing that two firms have also been granted licenses to build gold refineries reiterated the commitment of the federal government to some strategic minerals that will have significant impact on the economy which he said has been ravaged by the outbreak of COVID-19.

While emphasising that Nigeria is on the verge of making a strong break-through in building a sustainable gold ecosystem, Adegbite stated that the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI) has successfully taken off, adding that the informal mining operators are now being organized into mining co-operatives and integrated into the institutional mining framework.

Adegbite said the government has intensified efforts to generate reliable geodata and providing an investor-friendly environment that will help in cushioning the economic effect of COVID-19.

“It is my distinct pleasure to welcome all participants to this event. After a successful hosting of the 4th Annual Nigeria Mining Week in October last year, all of us looked forward to a more robust edition of the Nigeria Mining Week this year. Indeed, we expected an event much richer in content and higher participation.

“However, we have been struck by a global outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic that has devastated the economy of nations as a result of lockdowns and other containment measures. In Nigeria, we were further impacted by the sharp dip in oil revenues arising from the fall in global prices.

“The Nigerian government views the current economic challenges as an opportunity to re-access our strategies and rebuild a more resilient and diversified economy. In this regard, we have in the mining sector embarked on policies and projects to cushion the economic shocks of COVID-19. We have also intensified our efforts at generating reliable geodata and providing an investor-friendly ecosystem for the rapid development of the sector for the post COVID markets” he said.

The Minister also said is intensifying the enhancement of local skills through revamping of mining institutions to boost revenue drive.

“Our starting point in addressing COVID-19 challenges is the enhancement of domestic knowledge, skills and technology in mining institutions to improve mining governance. Under our programme, we are re-equipping our institutions and extensively training our staff. The Nigerian Geological Survey Agency Laboratory, the National Metallurgical Development Centre and the Nigerian Institute of Mines and Geosciences are being strengthened to provide research and build capacity in the sector. The Ministry is conducting stakeholders’ consultation to educate and sensitize communities, state and local governments, as well as civil society groups on their role in fostering the development of the mining industry for shared prosperity.

“The Ministry is introducing digital service platforms and infrastructure for the efficient governance of the sector. A Remote Sensing Centre located in Abuja has been established to identify and manage informal and registered mining co-operative sites throughout the country. Government is currently establishing a complete and comprehensive electronic National geo-Data Centre which will include current and colonial geoscientific data. The Geo-Data will easily be a findable global network and accessible in a digital format to all investors and researchers.

“To generate employment opportunities for a large number of youths, the government has designed a range of skills-building and livelihood enhancement programmes. The skills development programme on gemstones and jewellery making will soon commence while the revitalization of the famous Ladi Kwali Centre to train youths on pottery making is at an advanced stage. It is the intention of government to replicate these centres in other political zones of the country.

“My Ministry has commenced the process of developing a sustainable barite industry to boost the local content in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. Similarly, we are driving investments in Bitumen, Calcium Carbonate and phosphate minerals.

“We have intensified our efforts at de-risking investments in the mining sector through the provision of geodata. The National Integrated Mineral Exploration Programme (NIMEP) has entered its 4th phase out of the five phases that were scheduled. This phase would involve extensive drilling and analyses of samples of target areas. Already, tracts of mineralization with significant findings are being discovered.

“The Mining Cadastre Office has been upgraded to an online system, and six zonal offices have been created. This is to ensure institutional efficiency, transparency and non-discretionary administration of mining titles in Nigeria. The new system will be commissioned soon.

“Today, Nigeria has a robust regulatory regime in the 2007 Minerals and Mining Act and its attendant Regulations and Fiscal Regime. The government may fine-tune a few sections to create further ease of doing business in the Nigeria minerals industry. We will look forward to a vibrant collaboration with state governments, the National Assembly, communities, operators and other stakeholders in all our endeavours to accelerate growth in the mining industry.

“I will like to reaffirm my commitment to the success of the Nigerian Mining Week as a unique platform to promote mining in Nigeria. It is the wish of everybody that this pandemic disappears very soon to enable us to host a more robust event next year. I commend the organizers of this event for their vision and relentless efforts despite the challenges of the moment.

“Thank you all, and I wish you very fruitful deliberations as I look forward to meeting with investors in the next few days” .

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