President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said that improved gold mining operations in the country would generate no fewer than 250,000 jobs and over $500 million annually in royalties and taxes to the Federal Government.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina on Thursday, said Buhari disclosed this at the official presentation of locally mined gold bars by the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMDI).
Buhari at the event also reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to establish gold refineries in Nigeria.
He said the laudable initiative would support efforts at creation of jobs for Nigerians, diversifying the revenue base, and improving foreign exchange reserves.
Reiterating the determination of the Federal Government to combat illegal mining activities, the President expressed concern that Nigeria lost close to $3 billion from 2012 – 2018 due to illegal smuggling of gold.
‘‘With the implementation of the PAGDMI scheme which will result in the set-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 centers will help the government in realizing 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,’’ he said.
President Buhari noted that in addition to the potential revenue gains that would occur from mining operations, efforts were being made to enable the setting up of gold refineries in Nigeria.
He expressed optimism that these measures would lead to the creation of additional job opportunities across the gold value chain and also help the nation capture the additional value created from the gold refining process.
On environmental degradation, President Buhari pledged that the government would pay close attention to safety and environmental measures to protect workers and the environment.