In order to facilitate the development of the gold value chain in the country, the federal government has developed a National Gold Policy that would not only lead to the formal production of gold, but which will also regulate trading in gold, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bawa Bwari has said.
The Minister, who made this known while delivering the stewardship report of the ministry, recently, said the scheme will also document gold export, thereby addressing the challenge of illegal export of gold, a trend that has led to huge economic losses for the country.
He said the scheme will stem the prevalence of unhealthy working conditions and smuggling of solid mineral resources, which inhibit collection of royalties, fees and taxes.
Discussing the primary aim of the scheme, the minister said: “The Gold Purchase Scheme will promote the production, aggregation and refining of Nigerian gold, for purchase by the Central Bank of Nigeria,” adding that approval for the development and implementation of the scheme by the Solid Minerals Development Fund, was one of the major outcomes of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
Discussing how the scheme will be administered, he said: “The first is the public sector window, which involves the production of gold by registered artisans under a model integrated gold production system, operated by an SMDF Special Purpose Vehicle.
“This direct intervention is planned for Kebbi, Zamfara, Niger, Osun and Kaduna states,” he added.
“The second window is the private sector window, which involves the provision of access to equipment through a lease/hire-purchase loan facility for Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Miners (ASGMs), which shall be grouped into clusters for easy administration.
He said the loan facility will be serviced from income on gold production, which will be aggregated through existing mineral buying hubs by SMDF/CBN authorized off-takers.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria shall be the anchor, as final off-taker of the certified London Bullion Market Association gold bars produced through the Scheme, under a Federal Gold Reserve Treasury.
While he assured that the scheme will guarantee the formal employment of 50% of the 110,000 artisanal gold mining workforce, he added that an estimated 250,000 more jobs will be created, by extension, in other sectors that will service the organised gold supply chain.
The minister further said: “Projected production is 175,000 ounces of refined gold bullion in the first year while projected earnings, in the gold sub-sector shall increase by 53 billion naira and boost the solid minerals sector’s contribution to the national GDP by 80%,” he added.
The pilot phase of the National Gold Purchase Scheme is set to be launched in Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State by President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2019.
Discussing the procedure for granting Gold Refinery Licenses, he said: “In line with the provisions of the Mineral and Metal Policy 2009 with reference to the development of downstream operations in the sector and decisions reached at the recently concluded ERGP Focus Lab, the Ministry granted the first ever gold refinery license in Nigeria to Kian Smith Trade Co. Ltd.
“I was privileged to perform the ground breaking ceremony for the plant by this private sector operator, on the 13th of December 2018,” adding that the refinery is expected to commence production of 99.99% bullion bars and coins in the third quarter of 2019.