By Palma Ileye
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, MMSD, Dr. Oluwatoyin Akinlade has revealed that the establishment of the Kano Gold Souk will not only draw International attention to the Nigerian gold potentials but will also act as a platform to showcase the jewellery market in the country.
According to a press release issued by MMSD Press Unit, Akinlade disclosed this yesterday in Kano while delivering her keynote remarks during a One-Day Stakeholders’ Engagement Workshop On the Establishment Of Downstream International Gold Souk held in Kano State .
Speaking further, she stated that the purpose of the workshop was to provide participants with adequate knowledge of the concept and vision of the project in order to ensure that it was optimally utilized according to intended purposes and for the benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians.
She noted that the establishment of the Gold Souk was a win-win for both the stakeholders and the government, as it would help bring to limelight indigenously produced gold and shore up revenue for the government.
She urged all participants to pay keen attention to the resource persons during the workshop, as it will help to prepare stakeholders adequately to play expected roles in the success of the project to the glory God and for posterity.
In his welcome address, Director Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining, ASM, Yunusa Mohammed stated that Artisanal and Small Scale Mining has been known to provide jobs and livelihoods to great number of people around the world.
Mohammed noted that globally, it was estimated that over 40 million people were engaged in the sector producing more than fifth of the world’s gold, tin and tantalum supplies as well as accounting for more than 80% of global supply of gemstones especially sapphire, emerald, tourmaline, aquamarine, topaz, etc.
He further pointed out that a significant portion of the Nigeria’s mineral production comes from the artisanal and small-scale miners.
He added that the subsector was believed to provide livelihood opportunities to about 2,000,000 Nigerians.
However, he disclosed that these miners mostly use inappropriate or crude methods and very rudimentary tools to exploit mineral deposits.
The Director revealed that despite the Ministry’s efforts in ensuring that regulations and mechanisms were put in place to develop the ASM subsector in the country, the sector was still largely informal, with most operators engaging in illegal mining, smuggling of minerals, and generally causing social conflicts in host communities.
He stated that poorly regulated ASM affects national economic development and security, creates pollution and general degradation of the environment as well as smuggling, social disruption, child labour, influx of illegal migrants and the outbreak of diseases due to poor sanitary environment under which mining camps thrive.
Additionally, he informed that through the instrumentality of the Economic Sustainability Plan of President Muhammadu Buhari led administration, the Ministry initiated and implemented the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Cluster Development Project. This, he stated led to the establishment of an International Gold Souk in Batakaye Village, Kumbotso LGA, Kano State..
He expressed optimism that the workshop organized for Stakeholders drawn from both the public and private sectors will address the present issues militating against the development of ASM as well as enable smooth transition from informal and illegal mining to a more formalized, organized and sustainable mining ventures.
In his remarks, Chairman, Miners Association of Nigeria, Kano State, Mallam Yahaya Kulu, while applauding the Federal Government through the Ministry of Mines for siting the Gold Souk in Kano, said the opening of the Gold Souk in Kano was an indication that miners in Kano were law abiding and not illegal.
He promised the Association’s unalloyed commitment to ensuring the sustainability of the Gold Souk.