The Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI) is set to present its first Gold and Silver bars to President Muhammadu Buhari, a development that represents a significant progress in the determination of the Buhari administration to diversify the economy and improve rural economies through the purchase and processing of local gold by the Central Bank of Nigeria, while increasing the nation’s foreign reserves under the presidential Initiative.
The Executive Secretary/CEO, Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF), Hajiya Fati Umar Shinkafi who confirmed the development to our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday, said: ‘PAGMI is due to present the first artisanally mined, responsibly sourced, aggregated, processed, and refined gold and silver bars to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari.’
Shinkafi disclosed that agreements have been reached with leading producers of gold-testing and weighing equipment to equip fifty gold-buying centers in the country, and assured that in the next couple of months, PAGMI will scale up across the entire gold mining belt of the country.
According to her, all states of the federation will benefit from the initiative, adding that the organized private sector also have crucial role to play in the success of the initiative.
While commending indigenous gold merchants operating in the organized private sector, she assured that PAGMI will complement their efforts towards realizing the set goals of economic diversification.
She said PAGMI will expand its scope of activities to other states will come on board after the completion of the set goals in the pilot states.
Shinkafi, who served as Zamfara State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry before her appointment as Executive Secretary of the SMDF, recalled that president Buhari approved PAGMI in 2019 to foster the integration of artisanal gold mining activities in the country’s legal, economic, and institutional framework.
Discussing the significance of the integration, the Executive Secretary said ‘it will create new and formalised mining jobs, fast track economic diversification, reduce incidences of lead and mercury poisoning as well as encourage safer mining practices.’ She further noted that it will block economic leakages, tackle economic sabotage, and improve the nation’s foreign reserves.’
Shinkafi noted that ‘the integration aims to provide access to markets for artisanal miners through a National Gold Purchase Program and the deployment of enhanced mining methods at artisanal and small-scale mining sites.’
Discussing the mode of operation of the Initiative, she explained that ‘through PAGMI, the Central Bank of Nigeria will purchase locally produced gold in Naira to boost the nation’s foreign reserves,’ stating that PAGMI will buy all the gold produced by artisanal and small-scale miners and aggregated by licensed buying centers and aggregators for supply to the Central Bank of Nigeria.’
She assured that PAGMI will deploy safe and efficient mining and processing technologies across artisanal mining locations in the country, beginning with Kebbi and Osun States as the Pilot States with intervention in Kaduna, Zamfara and Niger States to commence immediately after the Pilot.’
While expressing optimism that PAGMI will strategically address the social and economic challenge of illegal mining, the Executive Secretary made reference to the United Nation’s statistics on Comtrade, saying that ‘PAGMI estimates that between 2012 – 2018, ninety-seven tons of gold valued at over $3 billion was illegally smuggled out of Nigeria.’
Shinkafi said ‘the progress made by the Presidential Initiative is a result of 24 months of intense efforts between the Solid Minerals Development Fund, Kebbi and Osun States Government, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, and the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, under a Steering Committee led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.’
While describing the milestone as a celebration of the resourcefulness of Nigeria’s artisanal miners, Hajiya Shinkafi commended the ‘remarkable efforts of the PAGMI Presidential Steering Committee led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.’
Shinkafi, a highly-regarded fiscal policy expert who earned eminence for raising funds for development of Zamfara State projected that, ‘through PAGMI, the Federal Government of Nigeria could realize an annual average of $150 million in taxes, $25 Million in royalties, and $500 Million accretion to foreign reserves from the integration of artisanal gold mining activities implemented by PAGMI,’ adding that over 500,000 new mining and formalized jobs will be created, a development that will lead to poverty alleviation for more than one million households.