The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, has said that if Nigeria protects its gold reserves and support the exploration with appropriate policies, the revenue could be as huge as revenue being generated currently from the oil and gas sector.
Adegbite, made the remark while reacting to government’s plan to prosecute 19 foreign nationals caught in illegal mining in Zamfara and Osun States recently.
“If we guard our gold reserves and make sure that they are exploited properly, the revenue derived from there is comparable to what oil and gas fetches us now”, he said.
The minister added that because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic all over the world, other metals/minerals are not selling much because industries that will use them have shut down, but the price of gold is rising.
“If you look at the international stock market, the price of Gold keeps rising. I think the last time I checked, its 1,768 dollars. This has increased the importance of Gold and demand for it. While we have gold potential in Kebbi, Niger and Kaduna, the two proven ones where people are already working is Zamfara and Osun state.
“Because of the dwindling price of oil, its having an adverse effect on the federal income. Consequently, states who rely on federal accounts, will be affected as such. So,every state now is waking up to support us in guarding minerals in their state.” Adegbite said.
The minister said the foreign nationals that had been caught in illegal mining operations are Chinese, Bulkinababes and Senegalese.
He confirmed that” in Osun, 17 foreigners had been apprehended while in Zamfara, it is just two of them. We are taking them to the Federal High Court.”