He further revealed that the country was looking forward to process the minerals locally as further processing of minerals generates increased profits compared with shipping raw minerals.
In particular, Adegbite said Nigeria aimed to process barite, used in drilling for oil and gas, and sell it to countries such as Ghana and South Africa, which need the mineral to exploit new oil discoveries.
Last year, Nigeria inaugurated the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (“PAGMI”) to foster the formalization and integration of artisanal gold mining activities into Nigeria’s legal, economic, and institutional framework.
In July, The first batch of PAGMI gold was unveiled at a presentation ceremony to President Buhari.
Adegbite said Nigeria was encouraging small-scale miners to form cooperatives and sell at government-buying centres, where prices are closer to global values than those 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 prices have been tangentially appreciating.
Early last month, Gold surpassed the US$2000/oz mark for the first time in history as investors rushed to acquire more gold as a safe haven for their investments at a time of increased economic volatility.
Adegbite said security had improved and buying centres would stop artisanal miners dealing with criminals:
“By weaning them off the illegal people and (making) sure they sell to government-approved centres, you take off that linkage.”
Its first gold is expected in the second quarter of 2021.
Malte Liewerscheidt, vice president of London-based risk consultancy Teneo Intelligence, said the plans were likely to be undermined by “structural challenges pertaining to insecurity and infrastructure deficiencies”.