President Buhari seeks more accountability from Solid Minerals Fund

As Nigeria loses $5bn in gold smuggling

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative, (PAGMI), to provide a six-month progress report on the Solid Minerals Development Fund, designed to capture accruals from investments.

The aim is to further ensure probity and best practice in the mining sector.

He gave the directive yesterday, at a briefing by the Steering Committee and Management Team of PAGMI at the State House, Abuja.

The President charged the team to scale up operations in the mining sector by ensuring that investments go beyond artisanal and small-scale levels.

He expressed support to the Steering Committee’s target of aggregating 3-5 tons of gold over the next 12 months, urging them to capitalise on their successful pilot scheme in Kebbi State to roll out and expand sustainably across other states.

President Buhari urged PAGMI to ensure that the Solid Minerals Development Fund fast-tracks delivery of other directives to support the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative.

He said the Responsible Mining Framework presented would result in an effective and transparent gold supply chain, and demonstrate efforts to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, human rights abuses, and respect for the environment.

Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uche Ogar, who led the delegation said, between 2012 and 2018, $5 billion in gold was illegally smuggled out of Nigeria.

The Executive Secretary of the Solid Mineral Development Fund, Fatima Umaru Shinkafi, requested the President to increase the capitalisation of the fund to extend to other states requesting its intervention, which will enable the committee to meet up with its 5-tonne target.

The Executive Secretary called for support of the funding of targeted explorations to catalyse private sector investment and transform PAGMI into a large-scale operator to sustain the initiative.

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