The International Gemstone Market in Ibadan will create employment and wealth for the country, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, has said.
Adegbite made this known on while inaugurating the market located at Ojoo in Ibadan.
He said that the market project was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration’s resolve to diversify the country’s economy with focus on mining and agriculture.
According to him, to that effect, the Ministry of Mining has designed six strategic Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) Cluster Projects in the six Geopolitical Zones.
He explained that the idea was to spur jobs creation and capacity development of gemstones mining operators in Oyo State and its environs under the Economic Growth and Sustainability Plan of the Federal Government.
“This project was also designed to curb smuggling of gemstones and other minerals, as well as development of the capacities of the teeming youths.
“This will enable the youth to actively participate in the downstream gemstone and gold value chain,” Adegbite said.
He added that Ibadan was chosen as the location of the International Gemstone Market for its rich deposits of gemstone.
The minister said that the informal nature of the market gave credence to the poorly regulated trading of mostly unprocessed gemstones, leading to capital flights and job losses.
Adegbite added that the ASM cluster international gemstone in Ibadan would serve the South-West zone in a bid to leverage on the long-standing trading experience in the area.
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According to him, the market, which will be managed by the ministry, will be sustained beyond this administration.
He commended the state government for donating the land on which the market was built.
“These projects will create an enabling environment to support the mining industry through the formalisation of the ASM sub-sector and engender the development of the mining sector.
“This is because over 90 per cent of mining activities in the country are ASM-driven,” he said.
In his remarks, Gov. Seyi Makinde, commended the Federal Government for the initiative, saying that his administration had developed ways to grow the solid mineral sector for the next four years.
Makinde, represented by Mr Seun Ashamu, the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, called on residents of the state and stakeholders in the gemstones market to abide by the market’s rules and regulations.
Also, the acting President of Miners Association of Nigeria, Mr Musa Mohammed, lauded the Federal Government’s efforts in transforming the mining sector.
Mohammed, also represented by the association’s Secretary, Mr Dele Ayanleke, appealed to the government to lease equipment to members of the association at various operation clusters.