President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed concern that Nigeria lost close to $3 billion from 2012 – 2018 due to illegal smuggling of gold.
The President said this on Thursday during the official presentation of locally mined gold bars by the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMDI) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
President Buhari, who reiterated the determination of his administration to combat illegal mining activities, said 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.
He said this laudable initiative would support efforts at creating jobs for Nigerians, diversifying the revenue base, and improving foreign exchange reserves.
President Buhari noted that in addition to the potential revenue gains that will occur from mining operations, efforts are being made to enable the setting up of gold refineries in Nigeria.
“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,” the President said in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina.
He also expressed optimism that the 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.
He assured that the government would pay close attention to safety and environmental measures to protect workers and the environment.