The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite has lauded the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for its job creation drive.
Adegbite, who made the point on Monday while taking stock of his first year in office as Minister noted that the Buhari administration has been able to create enabling environment in the sector, a development he said led to the creation of jobs.
A statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media to the Minister, Mr Ayodeji Adeyemi quoted the minister as saying that Nigeria was on its way to becoming a major gold producing hub in the West African region, which would diversify the country’s revenue away from crude oil, and create jobs for its teeming youthful population.
According to the minister, government was creating an enabling environment across the gold value chain. ‘Indeed the international road shows we have had in the past have borne fruits. Today we have Thor exploration in Osun State through the Segilola Gold project, which is projected to start producing in the first half of next year. The project is expected to create about 400 direct jobs and 1000 indirect jobs,’ he said.
Adegbite equally revealed that the government had licensed two gold refineries that would refine gold to the London Bullion Market Association, LBMA, standard. Furthermore, the minister projected that a slew of industries would spring up across the gold value chain. ‘‘Numerous industries will spring off when our gold economy becomes full-fledged. Some of them would include equipment leasing and repairs, logistic and transport as gold requires a specialized means of transport, security, insurance, aggregators, and so on. These would ultimately create tens of thousands of jobs. Indeed, the government of President Buhari is all about job creation.’
Adegbite also said that the country, for the first time had mined, processed and refined gold under the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative, PAGMI, for use as part of Nigeria’s external reserves. He noted that the first batch of the artisanally-mined gold bars, to be purchased by the Central Bank, was unveiled at a presentation ceremony to President Buhari on July 16, 2020. ‘PAGMI will result in the creation of thousands of new mining and formalized jobs, leading to poverty alleviation for many households. Under the scheme, artisanal and small scale gold miners will earn more from higher productivity, better recovery rates through mechanization of operations, and better access to reliable geological information,’ he said.
Furthermore, Adegbite disclosed that the ministry had initiated a process that would lead to local capacity development in the production of barite. He divulged that the ministry has employed a consultant saddled to develop a roadmap for the sector. Adegbite estimates that over five thousand jobs would be created when the nation attains self-sufficiency in local barite production. ‘Presently, the barite that is used in the oil and gas industry is imported. But we are resolved to reverse this trend. As you may know barite is a critical weighting material in drilling fluids due to its high specific gravity,’ he said.
He further said: ‘We are working on a Roadmap towards a sustainable barite industry in Nigeria to support, regulate and monitor stake holders along the barite value chain. This process will identify and assist local mining and milling companies which would ultimately lead to the creation of jobs and save the nation foreign exchange expended on importing barite.’
Speaking on Ajaokuta Steel Plant, Adegbite pointed out that the global travel restriction occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, was preventing the technical experts from Russia from coming over to the plant to conduct an audit of the steel plant. He assured that the technical audit of the plant would be done as soon as the flight restriction was over “I am hopeful that Ajaokuta will come on stream before the end of President Buhari’s tenure and when that happens it is poised to create thousands of jobs,’ he said.
Adegbite concluded that the past one year had been a learning experience for him. ‘People have been gracious to me, availing me of their knowledge. I have learnt a lot and I am still learning. It has been a wonderful experience so far. I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for giving me this opportunity to serve Nigerians.’