Nigeria is on its way to becoming a major gold-producing hub in the West African region, the Federal Government declared on Monday.
According to the government, this would diversify the country’s revenue base from crude oil and create jobs for its teeming youthful population.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, made the declaration in Abuja while taking stock of his first year in office as minister.
He said, “Indeed, the international roadshows we have had in the past have produced fruits. Today, we have Thor exploration in Osun State through the Segilola Gold project.
“The exploration firm is projected to start producing (gold) in the first half of next year. The project is expected to create about 400 direct jobs and 1,000 indirect jobs.”
Adegbite said the government had licensed two gold refineries that would refine gold to the London Bullion Market Association standard.
The minister projected that a number of industries would spring up across the gold value chain.
He added, “Numerous industries will spring up when our gold economy becomes full-fledged. Some of them will include equipment leasing and repairs, logistics and transport, as gold requires a specialised means of transport, security, insurance, aggregators, and so on.”
The minister noted that for the first time, the country had mined, processed and refined gold under the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative for use as part of Nigeria’s external reserves.
Adegbite also stated that the mines ministry had initiated a process that would lead to local capacity development in the production of barite.
“Presently, the barite that is used in the oil and gas industry is imported. But we are resolved to reverse this trend. As you may know, barite is a critical weighting material in drilling fluids due to its high specific gravity,” he said.
On the Ajaokuta Steel Plant, the minister pointed out that the global travel restriction occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic was preventing technical experts from Russia from visiting to audit the plant.
He stated that the technical audit of the plant would be done as soon as the flight restrictions were over.
“I am hopeful that Ajaokuta will come on stream before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure and when that happens, it is poised to create thousands of jobs,” he said.
In another development, Adegbite, while on a courtesy visit to the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, described the state as a centre of the gold business.
A statement from his ministry said the governor proceeded to the formal inauguration of the Kano Gold Durbar, which was a programme designed to celebrate Kano as a business city, especially in gold transactions.