The governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, yesterday presented gold bars and other precious stones to President Muhammadu Buhari as a gesture that the state is ready to be commercially viable by full scale mining in the metal and other solid minerals.
Matawalle, in the meeting with President Buhari, called for the strengthening of local miners in the state so that they can benefit from the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI) programme of the federal government.
He cited that a few days ago, government discovered a large deposit of gold in the state where the locals are trooping in thousands to do illegal mining. This is in addition to other sites that are being mined in the state.
He added that he was at the State House to seek the President’s advice on how best to tackle the issue of illegal mining. “We discussed and he gave me all the support. In a few days, the people of Zamfara will see a lot of changes, especially in the mining sector.”
According to Matawalle, in order to break the cycle of foreigners’ illegal foray into Zamfara State, the state government has been buying minerals from the locals to boost the local economy, assuring that within two to three months, the state will go into full scale mining.
He noted: “It is very important to us as a government, to know, particularly the cause of insecurity in Zamfara State. Zamfara State is blessed with many mineral resources and some people outside the country come in to buy gold and other precious stones. Sometimes, instead of paying people, they pay with arms. I did some investigations; so the state government will be buying some of these minerals in order to block that chain.
“The state government is engaging with the miners; we will be buying some of this gold from them with the limited resources we have. We have so many cases of gun running in Zamfara State. Mr. President is very happy with the system we have initiated and he said whatever support we need the federal government is ready to assist us. In fact he has given directive to the minister of solid minerals to work with the state government to make Nigeria a great country in terms of solid minerals, to diversify from oil to solid mineral resources.”
Matawalle stressed that he was in the State House to specially talk with President Buhari about the many challenges the state was facing, particularly the issue of illegal mining that is ongoing on a daily basis.
Matawalle attributed the influx of guns in the state to foreigners who use arms to pay for gold and other mineral deposits in the state.
The gold is expected to become a part of Nigeria’s external reserve after being purchased by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
It will be recalled that Nigeria had earlier mined, processed, and refined gold under the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative, (PAGMI). The first batch of PAGMI gold was unveiled at a presentation ceremony to President Buhari on July 16, 2020.
“PAGMI will result in the creation of thousands of new mining and formalized jobs, leading to poverty alleviation for many households. Under the scheme, artisanal and small scale gold miners will earn more from higher productivity, better recovery rates through mechanization of operations, and better access to reliable geological information,” Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, had said at the presentation in July.