The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development says it has finalized guidelines on solid mineral export to ensure that unprocessed solid minerals are not taken out of Nigeria.
Alhaji Abubakar Bwari, the Minister of State, said this during the official commissioning of AMRAN Faceting Incubation Centre in Abuja.
Bwari said that relevant stakeholders, such as the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), among others, had put the guidelines together to ensure that unprocessed minerals were not taken out of the country legally or illegal.
He said that unprocessed solid minerals were being exported from Nigeria on a daily basis and sold at a cheaper rate.
“Nigeria is endowed with gold and gemstones located in several states but are presently being exploited by Artisanal and Small Scale miners (ASM).
“These minerals are mostly smuggled out of the country in an unrefined and unprocessed form, leading to massive loss of revenue for the government and producers, as gold and gemstones are mostly not appropriately priced,’’ he said.
He appreciated AMRAN’s effort in establishing a faceting incubation centre where gemstones were being cut and processed instead of taking them out of the country in their raw state.
According to him, adding value to minerals before they are exported will go a long way in contributing to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He also commended AMRAN for its proposed plan to establish a gold buying centre, gold refinery and jewelry centre in Nigeria to further reinforce the massive potential that could create wealth and job opportunities for the youth.
The minister of state urged the company to operate in line with the provisions of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 and its pursuant Regulations, 2011.
Bwari also advised the company to ensure transparent and competitive pricing mechanism that would facilitate patronage by gemstone producers and dealers.
Earlier, Alhaji Lamba Zannah, the Chairman, AMRAN Mining Company, said the major problem being faced by the sub-sector was that a significant proportion of minerals produced were being exported unprocessed.
According to Zannah, most of these unprocessed minerals are being exported to Hong Kong, Thailand, Germany, China and the United States.
He said this means that jobs associated with value addition of those products exported would create wealth and bestow other benefits on those countries.
“This must not be allowed to continue, otherwise our country which is blessed with abundant mineral resources will be left with nothing.”
He said that the reason for establishing the company was to locally add value to unprocessed mineral resources rather than enriching other countries.
The chairman said that the potential of the company for Nigeria’s economy were enormous, as it would create job opportunities in both upstream and downstream, and empower Artisanal and Small Scale Miners by creating the right environment for them.
He said it would also improve government revenue generation through taxation and excise duties, among others.
The highlight of the occasion was the presentation of certificates to 10 graduates trained by AMRAN on cutting of gemstones.
Amaka E. Nliam