The Federal Government yesterday disclosed that it has commenced the presidential artisanal gold mining, biometric data capture and enrolment exercise in Kebbi State.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, who stated this, while delivering an address at Yauri Local Government Area, said the initiative under PAGMI was to formalise the artisanal gold miners cooperatives with a view to support miners.
He added that the programme was in collaboration with the state government.
Adegbite, who was represented by a Director in the ministry, Patrick Ojeka, noted the steps being taken would lead to improved practices, access to finance and equipment, create jobs and sanitise operations of artisanal miners.
“This, undoubtedly, will grow the state’s economy through diversification into solid minerals development,” he added.
He stressed that the ceremony was part of an on-going process to support the formalisation and integration of artisanal and small scale gold mining activities into the nation’s legal, economic and institutional framework.
The minister pointed out that the efforts would promote Nigeria’s mineral processing and value addition industries that strengthen remote and far reaching linkages, as well as resolve any institutional and legal barriers that currently exist in the value chain.
Adegbite also noted that centralised buying centres would be established within the state, with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as the caretaker, while assuring that the programme would be implemented and measures taken to ensure its sustainability.
He thanked the government and people of Kebbi State for their support and cooperation.
Speaking, Executive Secretary, Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF), Hajiya Fatima Umaru Shinkafi explained that Kebbi and Osun states were selected to flag-off the pilot project.
She said the programme was part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic diversification agenda through CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme for which Kebbi had excelled, especially in the solid minerals sector.
“President Buhari wants to create more jobs in rural areas of Nigeria in line with his mission to create million jobs. The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) will enroll the first batch of artisanal gold miners under the pilot scheme,” she said.
Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu said President Buhari was convinced about the capacity of artisanal gold miners to be given an opportunity to operate properly, legally and safely so that more gold could be produced at market prices and the miners could live useful lives.
He commended the President for selecting Kebbi State as one of the states for the pilot scheme and urged all miners who would be registered to be good ambassadors, organise themselves properly and use whatever assistance that come their way to ensure that they do their business in a transparent and responsible manner.