The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said gemstones worth $3 billion are exported yearly from Nigeria, but mostly unofficially.
Speaking yesterday at the African Gems and Jewellery Exhibition and Seminar held in Abuja, he said despite the huge potentials in gemstone mining, there has been loss of revenue due to laundering and damage to the environment and these, he added, ”Remain major causes of concern”.
“Consequently, in past years, the gemstone sector had largely been a vehicle for money laundering, with the average dollar value of Nigerian gems exported put at over $3 billion annually. The local mining industry for gems remained at its primitive level of shovel and digger and Nigeria’s vast untapped gemstone resource was not being optimally exploited for the benefit of Nigerians,” the minister said.
He said, however that the ministry is making concerted effort towards ensuring proper organization of the gemstone sector with emphasis on regularising the artisans who mostly engage in it.
Dr Fayemi, further stated that among the ministry’s effort is improved sectorial access to finance which has seen the ministry collaborate with Bank of Industry (BOI) to launch a N5 billion fund to mining projects, secured approval to access N30 billion from natural resources intervention fund for the promotion of exploration and to strengthen the regulatory capacity of the ministry.
He added that the ministry has also secured a $150 million loan from the World Bank and plans to assemble a $600 million investment for the sector, DailyTrust reports.