How Mopa Gold Processing plant will impact North Central, facilitate economic diversification – Minister  

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite on Tuesday, discussed some goals scored by the Federal Government in the mining sector, during the commissioning of the Mopa Gold Processing Plant in Kogi State, North Central Nigeria.

In is Keynote Address at the ceremony, the minister noted that one of the most important things to know about the Mopa Gold Processing plant is that it was conceived by the Ministry as one of the strategic responses to COVID-19 pandemic, under the Economic Sustainability Plan of the Federal Government.

While saying that the choice of Mopa as a location for the gold processing plant is predicated on its central position on the Schist Belt which trends from the northwest through western Kogi State to southwest Nigeria, he explained that the Nigeria Schist Belt is known to host rich deposits of gold.

Discussing a major advantage of siting the plant in Mopa, the Minister said: “With the location of the gold processing plant in Mopa, artisanal and small-scale gold operators within the Schist Belt states can easily access the plant for their gold processing and refining,” adding that the highly economic project is one of the six ASM cluster projects designed to trigger economic development of the North West zone.

According to the minister, the Mopa Gold processing plant is one of the strategic ASM Cluster Projects conceived by the Ministry in the six geopolitical zones in line with the President’s resolve to anchor his economic diversification agenda on two key sectors of the economy, namely mining and agriculture.

He said the Ministry had designed six strategic ASM Cluster Projects in the six geopolitical zones as a means to harness the potentials of the over three (3) million ASM operators in the country. “The Gold Processing Plant in Mopa for the North Central Zone is one of these projects.,” he added.

While saying that informal trading of unprocessed gold leads to capital flights and job losses, he noted that the plant aims to develop the downstream mining industry toward improving product-pricing, and creating jobs and generating more revenue from local and foreign markets that the project was being established.

Adegbite, who recalled that at the inception of the Buhari administration, “the President did not mince words in his desire to encourage diversification of the national economic base.”

He therefore explained that the landmark projects aim to create an enabling environment to support the Mining Industry through the formalization of the ASM Sub-sector as a major driver of the key growth parameters to engender the development of the Mining Sector since over 90% of the Mining activities in the country could safely be said to be ASM driven.

The minister said: “The concept of the Gold Processing Plant was a crafted policy to spur job creation and capacity development of gold mining operators in Kogi State and environs, through the Economic Growth and Sustainability Plan of the Federal Government,” adding that the project houses several Federal Government initiatives geared towards formalizing the ASM activities and curbing the exploitation of artisanal and small-scale gold miners as well as development of the capacities of Nigeria’s teaming youths to actively participate in downstream gold value chain.

He said: “It will interest you to note that this project is designed based on the cluster concept which has become a global trend in industrial development to promote shared amenities, agglomeration of similar producers and customers among others, based on geographical proximity or access to complementary expertise to promote efficiency and increase specialization and production.

He said the plant will create and generate sustainable competitive advantages in the development of downstream gold mining industries while increasing the level of competitive inputs such as services, machinery and equipment.

“The plant will also increase the level of employment in all business activities related to the gold mining cluster,” he said, adding that it has the potential to increase the rate and exportation of value-added products and services while attracting foreign investments.

In addition, the Mopa Gold Processing plant will generate new start-up companies and increase trade performance while growing higher corporate profits to government as well as improve mineral production output and ease of mining sector regulation and administration.

He commended the development partners without whose contributions he said, “this laudable achievement would not have been possible,” saying: “We specially appreciate His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR who approved the release of funds for the implementation of this project, and the Vice President, His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who coordinated the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) aimed at cushioning the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, under whose purview, the ASM Cluster Project was conceived and approved.”

The Minister also commended Kogi State Government for the support towards the realization of the project.

“We acknowledge the support of international organizations such as the World Bank, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, United Nations Development Programme, Global Environment Facility among others,” the minister said, adding that the government of Canada, Australia and others did well to address ASM challenges in Nigeria.

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