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FG to Ban Artisanal Miners from Sale of Raw Gemstones at Ridiculous Prices to Foreigners

FG to Ban Artisanal Miners from Sale of Raw Gemstones at Ridiculous Prices to Foreigners

Kasim Sumaina in Abuja

 The federal government has warned artisanal and informal miners to desist from selling raw gemstones at ridiculous prices for export to countries such as Dubai, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the United States.

To this end, the government has commenced the process of discouraging those involved in such act.

It has also engaged experts to train locals in gemstones and jewelry production to compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world.

The Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, said this on the occasion of the graduation and send forth of Batch 2 Master Gemstone and jewelry making and design Trainees in Abuja.

Saraki, who spoke at the presentation of certificates to students, disclosed that Nigeria was abundantly blessed with several varieties of minerals resources.

She added that some of the most popular Nigerian gemstones include, Sapphire, Aquamarine, Beryl, Emerald, Tourmaline, Ruby, Garnet, Amethyst and Zircon, which are located across the country, but sadly are illegally exported out of the country in raw forms.

The minister who congratulated the World Bank and the MinDiver Project for their vision and support said: “I am also delighted that this strategic national training programme on gemstone and jewelry production which was flagged off by the Minister, Olamilekan Adegbite, in November 2021 with first batch of 20 trainees from states across the country was envisaged to transform Nigeria’s jewelry industry.

“I am elated that all of you that enrolled in the programme are graduating today, signifying your zeal and commitment in line with federal government’s resolve to promote local processing of the abundant gemstone and jewelry raw materials in the country,” he said.

According to her, “we all know that, the value of a gemstone increases when it is cut and polished. However, majority of gemstones mined in Nigeria are being exported without any value addition since the technical know-how and machinery required in cutting, polishing and finishing jewelry are generally lacking.

“As a result, the Nigerian economy does not benefit financially from gemstone trade and value addition.

“It is a known fact that Nigeria with its large population has a huge-insatiable appetite for jewelry and it is imperative to create a local jewelry industry that would substantially meet local demand for quality jewelry products, increase import substitution, create jobs and boost the export value of Nigeria’s gemstones and jewelry.”

Speaking further, she said: “It is my belief that the jewelry industry when fully harnessed could contribute significantly to national economic growth by creating massive job opportunities along its value chain, increase standard of livelihood in communities with the burst of creativity, generate huge export contribution and provide opportunity for import substitution.

“In the long run, we want to transform from large consumer of jewelry products from countries like the UAE, India, China, and Europe to high quality local jewelry producers to save the country the huge foreign exchange expended on jewelry imports.”

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