The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite has emphasised the creation of the International Gemstone Market as a way to diversify Nigeria’s economy.
The ultramodern market, located in Ojoo, Akinyele local government area, Ibadan, Oyo State, was commissioned on May 4, 2023.
The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has created six strategic ASM Cluster Projects in the six geopolitical zones to harness the potential of over three million artisanal and small-scale mining operators in Nigeria. The establishment of the International Gemstone Market in Ibadan is one such project.
In his address, the minister highlighted the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to open up potential in the mining sector as an alternative source of revenue. He noted that the ASM sub-sector is a significant driver of growth parameters for the mining industry since over 90 per cent of mining activities in Nigeria are ASM-driven.
The International Gemstone Market is expected to create over 20,000 jobs along the gemstone mining value chain in the Southwestern Zone cluster and increase revenue generation from the ASM sub-sector for both operators and the government. The emergence of subsidiary and service-oriented companies is expected to further boost economic activity, while improved infrastructure will benefit miners and other economic actors.
The market is designed to be a one-stop-shop for local and international gemstone and gold merchants, with facilities for testing, certifying, documenting, and effecting necessary payments for royalties and processing fees. The newly commissioned facility houses over 30 stalls, a banking hall, an MMSD office, and lapidary and gemological equipment for training on gemstone faceting and cutting.
The Ministry of Mines and Steel under the leadership of Adegbite and the Minister of State, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, has prioritised the ASM sub-sector as a strategy to stem incessant illegalities and support formalisation and mainstreaming of ASM operators.
The biometric data capturing of all registered artisanal and small-scale miners across the country is expected to create an ecosystem that minimises illegal mining and smuggling, increases government revenue from the resource, creates jobs and improves environmental and social stewardship.
Adegbite thanked President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Oyo State Government for their support in the realisation of the project. He also acknowledged the support of international organisations such as the World Bank, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Global Environment Facility, as well as the governments of Canada, Australia and others towards addressing the ASM issues in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the executive governor of Oyo State, Mr. Seyi Makinde, represented by the State Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Barr. Temilola Ashamu highlighted that the solid mineral sector is an area where value can be derived from existing comparative advantages to grow the economy and improve Nigeria’s GDP. He added that the gemstone market will lead to job creation among Nigerian youths and the labour force searching for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
Stakeholders in the mining sector, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Federal Road Safety Corps, the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Women in Mining (WiMN) and many others attended the commissioning. The International Gemstone Market is a significant step towards diversifying Nigeria’s national economy and tapping into the vast potential of the mining sector.