Nigeria to begin processing raw gold, others

Gold refining

. As Minister urges artisanal miners to register for loans

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekun Adegbite, says Nigeria will soon commence the process of refining gold, gemstones and other mineral resources in the six geo-political regions.

He said six plants were being set up in the six regions to process minerals, adding that these resources will go a long way in creating jobs and wealth for Nigerians.

This is even as he encouraged artisanal miners to expand their frontiers by registering with cooperative societies to enable them to access up to N100 million loans at only five per cent interest rate.

Adegbite, who disclosed this when he appeared on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja, said: “We have set out to do six regional projects and one of them is the gold souk in Kano, the North West region.

“Before now, our gold was being exported in its raw form for close to nothing to foreign counter for processing and we end up buying them expensively.

“We have trained people who will make jewellery and they will be resident in the plant.”

He said similar plants were set up in the North East, Bauchi for processing kaolin, while in the North Central, Kogi State was chosen for the establishment of a gold smelting plant.

Similarly, in the South West, Ibadan was chosen for a gemstone plant while in the South East, a lead processing plant was established in Ebonyi.

Also, the South South region got a barite processing plant, as “Nigeria imports barite to the tune of $300 million every year.

He said the six regional projects were at an advanced stage of completion and would be commissioned soon.

Before now, our gold was being exported in its raw form for close to nothing to foreign counter for processing and we end up buying them expensively.

Low interest loan

Regarding the loans, Adegbite said the low interest rate fixed by the government for artisanal miners is in efforts to encourage diversification of the economy.

He said the loan repayment could span for a period of 20 years, and urged them to form cooperatives of 10 people when approaching the Ministry for the loan to make the process seamless.

According to him, once the miners come together to form cooperatives, the ministry will give them the appropriate equipment and licence.

He said once the miners were registered, they would benefit from all incentives of the government like training and free tools.

“I was told we have more than a thousand cooperatives that have registered with us. Some of them have successfully transited from artisanal miners to small-scale miners.

“There are still many of them out there but we are winning because we are winning them over with incentives. So, because they are working, they are paying revenue to the government by paying their royalty; so it is a win-win situation,” he said.

The Minister commended the ability of artisanal miners to detect mineral resources despite that they did not have the required gadgets. (NAN)

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