The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite stated that Nigeria’s most traded mineral is gold.
He disclosed this at a forum organised by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.
Adegbite also noted that prior to the dependence on revenues from oil and gas, the country “relied” on coal and tin, leaving mining “behind”.
The minister said, “Right now, many Nigerians are into artisanal mining and this was caused by the fact that when oil was discovered, Nigeria moved away from mining, which was the mainstream of the economy.
“Before oil and gas, Nigeria relied on coal and tin; we were exporting and were indeed, quoted on the London Metal Exchange.
“And that is basically what was giving Nigeria money in those days before oil came but when oil came, we moved away. We left mining behind.
“Gold is the most traded mineral in Nigeria and these people mine gold and get nuggets. There are several thousands of such miners, when you aggregate what they mine, it comes in large volume and several kilos of gold.
“To know the extent of the money they make in the gold business, they hire private jets to take them out illegally because they realise a lot of money.
“At the rate gold is selling, one ounce of gold is selling for $2,200 and by the time you carry a thousand kilogrammes, you are making several billions of naira.
“But with AfCFTA coming into effect, we hope that other countries will cooperate with Nigeria because now it is a free trade, but there is documentation.”
He added that he hoped that other nations would cooperate with Nigeria, as illegal trading of the country’s mineral resources would not be allowed.
Adegbite said, “We hope that other countries will cooperate with Nigeria. I will not allow such illegal activity to go on within those countries.”