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FG to Ban Artisanal Miners from Sale of Raw Gemstones at Cheap Price to Foreigners

FG to Ban Artisanal Miners from Sale of Raw Gemstones at Cheap Price 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 United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the United States. 

It said that it had commenced the process of discouraging the perpetrators involved in such act, thereby engaging experts to train locals in gemstones and jewelry production to compete with counterparts anywhere in the world.

The Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Senator Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki, gave the warning on the occasion of the graduation and sendforth of Batch 2 Master Gemstone and Jewellery Making and Design trainees in Abuja. 

Saraki, who spoke at the presentation of certificates to the  students, disclosed that Nigeria is abundantly blessed with several varieties of mineral resources such as precious and semi-precious gemstones.

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 laudable endeavour, said: “I am also delighted that this strategic national training programme on gemstone and jewellery production which was flagged off by the Honourable Minister, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, in November 2021 with first batch of 20 trainees from states across the country, was envisaged to transform Nigeria’s jewellery 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 jewellery raw materials in the country.”

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 jewellery and it is imperative to create a local jewellery industry that would substantially meet local demand for quality jewellery products, increase import substitution, create jobs and boost the export value of Nigeria’s gemstones and jewellery.”

Speaking further, she said, “It is my belief that the jewellery 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 contributions and provide opportunity for import substitution. 

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

Continuing, Saraki said “it is our hope that, with this milestone achievement you will put your training into good use so that  in the nearest future, Nigerians would not be going abroad to buy their jewelry. With this development, we have also commenced the process of discouraging artisanal and informal miners who sell raw gemstones at ridiculous prices for export to countries such as Dubai, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the United States.”

She however said, “the current contribution of the solid minerals sector to the country’s overall GDP is less than one per cent and reports in 2019 revealed that gemstones worth USD 3 billion are exported annually from Nigeria, mostly unofficially with low revenue returns. To bridge these gaps, it has become necessary to build capacity and knowledge in the jewellery industry.”

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