Governor Bello Matawale of Zamfara State, North-West Nigeria, says the State is identifying local miners within its domain and mobilising them into cooperative groups in order to utilise the window provided by the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative (PAGMI) to boost their capacity and the State’s economy.
The Governor made the remark while speaking to State House Correspondents, after he paid a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari, to present some bars of gold mined in Zamfara State.
He said: “I came to brief him about the so many issues worrying my state particularly the issue of illegal mining that is taking place every day , like three days ago we had exposure of large deposit of gold in our state while the locals are trooping in thousands to do illegal mining, so I came to seek his advice on how best we are going to tackle the issue of illegal mining which we discussed and he gave me all the support and in a few days , people of Zamfara will see a lot of changes especially in mining sector .
“We want to strengthen local miners which we want to identify them and make them like a cooperative society so that they can be benefiting from mining, the President understood our plight and we have the issue of PAGMI. It is already ongoing and they have done it in some other states.
“Zamfara state is going to benefit from this PAGMI programme very soon. when I go back, we will set up a committee on PAGMI so that they can go round and the government and CBN will be buying from us directly, it is better they are selling it very cheap in the mining areas, the federal government, CBN and state can come in and be buying from these small-scale miners.”
The Governor disclosed that Zamfara State had already established a gold refinery as the state prepares to take the lead in exploration of solid minerals.
“We now have gold refinery in the state , which is mounted in Baka Lori Dam, we also have another equipment that is coming , we want to make Zamfara a model in terms of solid minerals and I assure the people of the state that within 2 to 3 months , we will go into full scale mining,” he said.
The Governor however lamented that the existence of many solid minerals in the State has some negative tendencies, due to the presence of many merchants in the State.
“Zamfara state is blessed with many minerals resources and some people outside the country come in to buy gold and other precious stones and sometimes instead of paying people, they pay back with arms.
“I did some investigations, so the state government will be buying some of these minerals so that we can block that chain. So now the state government was engaging the miners we will be buying some of this gold from them with the limited resources we have,” the Governor explained.
He said security situation has greatly improved in the State due to the hardwork of all security agencies operating in the State.
“As you have been hearing before, now the narration has changed, you won’t be hearing of mass killings in the state, because the security agents are doing their best, I equally advised the President that those that are calling for the sack of the service chiefs do not have a solution to the problem.
“Let us support the security and we as Governors we have a big role to play, we just have to support the security agencies no matter what. If the Governors are not serious, they can’t be able to achieve what they want, I advised the President that all those are calling for the sack of the security chiefs, they should think of the best way to support them to perform better instead of sacking them,” he said.
He said President Buhari advised the State to partner with foreign mining companies in order to gain more from the mining sector.
“What he said was that we would look for serious investors that will come to the state. He even advised me that I should liaise with South African and Russian mining companies so that we can partner with the state and federal government to achieve much more.
“I assure you within limited time, Once the ban is lifted, I will travel to South Africa to see some companies and make some assessments and they will follow me to come and see what Zamfara has. He gave me a fatherly advice and I was happy with the advice he gave me.” The Governor concluded.
Source: Voice of Nigeria