Nigeria’s Minister of Mines, Olamilekan Adegbite, says the country hopes to have 50 mines in operation by 2023.
Nigeria hopes to develop the nascent sector and diversify its oil interests whose prices in 2020, hit its lowest in 20 years.
Adegbite says Nigeria hopes mining will grow to account for at least, 3 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He adds that Nigeria aims to process Barite, used in drilling for oil and gas and sell it to countries such as Ghana and South Africa, that need the mineral to exploit new oil discoveries.
The minister says Nigeria encourages small-scale miners to form cooperatives and sell at government-buying centres, where prices are closer to global values than what illegal buyers offer.
While oil prices have been weak because of the impact of the pandemic on movement and industry, which has curbed fuel demand, gold in August hit record highs.
A problem for Nigeria is that its gold lies mostly in the northwest, where, humanitarian organisations say it has helped to fuel violence attributed to armed groups.
Adegbite says security had improved and buying centres would stop artisanal miners from dealing with criminals by weaning them off the illegal people and (making) sure they sell to government-approved centres.
He also expects more commercial gold miners to be attracted once Thor Explorations’s gold mine in Nigeria’s south-west starts producing. Its first gold is expected in the second quarter of 2021.
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