• Outlines how States can particulate in mineral exploration business
The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has debunked the insinuation that that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was buying gold ore from Zamfara State government. The Ministry categorically stated that “the CBN did not, and will not buy gold from Zamfara State Government,” adding that mineral resources are on the Exclusive Legislative list as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
A Press Statement made available to THE TRUTH on Thursday, titled, “Zamfara Gold: Putting the Facts Right,” signed by the Head of Press and Public Relations in the Ministry, Etore Thomas, debunked the insinuation, stating that the “CBN buys gold that is processed to 99.99% purity which satisfies the purity requirement of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), tradable all over the world.”
Further debunking the view, the ministry explained that Zamfara State displayed impure gold ores which does not conform to the LBMA benchmark desired by the CBN. “The gold ores displayed by Zamfara State government are semi-processed products called ore bars,” the statement said, adding no State Government has right to aggregate mineral resources within their domain to their own use.
The Ministry quoted Section forty-four, sub section three of the Constitution of Nigeria as saying that “the entire property in and control of all minerals, mineral oils and natural gas in under or upon any land in Nigeria or in, under or upon the territorial waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone of Nigeria, shall vest in the Government of the Federation and shall be managed in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly,” adding that the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007 is also very clear on the issue of minerals ownership and exploitation.
Discussing how revenue from solid mineral sector is channeled to States for national development, the ministry said: “Like in the oil and gas sector, revenue generated from mineral resources are paid into the federation account, and shared among the states during the monthly meeting of the Federation Allocation Account Committee (FAAC),” adding that thirteen percent derivation is paid on mineral resources exploitation from minerals producing states as done in the oil and gas sector.
The Ministry encouraged State governments to invest in the mining sector. “It is line with this that the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development is saddled with the responsibility of identifying the nation’s solid minerals, advising government on the formulation and execution of laws and regulations guiding the various stages of prospecting, quarrying and mining, and handling sale and consumption of solid minerals in the country, through the issuance of permit, licenses, leases and collection of rents, fees and royalties.”
“As part of strategies to implement policies in the Mining Sector to broaden revenue generation and employment opportunities in line with the economic diversification agenda of this administration, the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI) is being implemented.”
According to the ministry, the components of the initiative include formalization of artisanal miners into cooperatives in order to integrate their activities into the economic and institutional framework that would eliminate illegality, adding that Buying Centres and Aggregators are being registered in order to provide market access for artisanal miners and related operators.
Further commenting on the concerns that may have led to the misinformation, the statement said: “Zamfara State has security challenges and the State government discovered that bandits were exploiting the ignorance of the artisanal miners by buying-off their gold at very cheap price, take the gold across the border and sell at market price and exchange for ammunitions and guns, which was fueling banditry.”
“Zamfara State government through a registered company, with a licensed buying centre now buys gold from the artisanal miners at market price. This has discouraged artisanal miners in Zamfara State from selling gold ore to bandits,” the statement said, adding that State Governments can buy and sell gold through their licensed corporate bodies.
The Federal Government therefore encouraged all State Governments to participate in the exploitation of minerals in the country, by incorporating their respective Limited Liability Company with which to approach government for a license for Mining or Buying Centres.
The Ministry said every State-Government owned corporate body must go through the normal processes for approval and issuance of license, adding that the license permits such company to exploit minerals in any given location known as Cadastre Unit.