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Buhari demands report on solid minerals development fund

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President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative to provide a six-month progress report on the solid minerals development fund.

Buhari gave the directive on Wednesday at a briefing by the steering committee and management team of PAGMI at the statehouse, Abuja.

The President urged the PAGMI team to scale up operations in the mining sector by ensuring investments beyond small-scale levels. He also charged  PAGMI to fast-track its activities, so that it can provide support for the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative.

“I expect a six-month progress report that will clearly show significant progress by scaling up the program from its current pilot stage,” Buhari stated.

In a statement from the special adviser to the president on media, the President said “The PAGMI Management Team should now develop innovative ways to move PAGMI to the next level to ensure the Nigerian mining story goes beyond artisanal and small-scale mining,”

The President stated his support for the target set by PAGMI, to deliver 3-5 tons of gold over the next 12 months.  He urged them to work with all the relevant governments in other to activate the solid mineral development fund and to achieve its target.

“Now that you have successfully delivered a pilot scheme in Kebbi State, it is time to roll out and expand sustainably across other States. The Government is committed to providing all the necessary support required.” Buhari added.

The president directed that all stakeholders should conclude the ongoing assignment of determining a portion of their proceeds that will be accrued to the solid minerals development fund.

“The dedication of a portion of accruals to create a sustainable income stream for the Solid Minerals Development Fund is essential to delivering the mandates assigned to the Fund,” he said.

“The development of a sustainable funding stream for the Fund will conclude the implementation of the Fund’s Establishment Act, which is a key focus area for this Administration.

“This initiative is of great pride to me because through our intervention we can reach hardworking Nigerians in the field, toiling, and the quarries under the sun trying to earn an honest living.

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“We have been able to protect them from clutches of those who exploit their hard labour, while simultaneously bringing them into the value chain to earn improved income from their hard work.

The minister of mines and steel development, Uche Ogar, remarked that PAGMI had created the opportunity for formalisation and mainstreaming of artisanal miners, which will give them the economic opportunity to live.

He lamented that between 2012 and 2018, $5 billion in gold was illegally smuggled out of Nigeria.

The executive secretary, solid minerals development fund, Fatima Shinkafi,  asked Buhari to extend the fund to states who had requested such interventions. She said this will go a long way for PAGMI to meet its 5-ton target.

Shinkafi also asked the president to order an intervention by the Central bank of Nigeria to minimise losses by artisanal miners as a result of foreign exchange differentials.

She also  urged the president to declare a ban on artisanal export of gold for at least one year to give PAGMI a chance to checkmate the smuggling activities, and a temporary waiver on royalties presently set at about
three per cent.

PAGMI was launched in 2019 to foster the formalisation and integration of artisanal gold mining activities into Nigeria’s legal, economic, and institutional framework.

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