Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, the Minister for Mines and Steel Development, says Federal Government was encouraging value addition to raw materials before exportation to enhance the products.
Adegbite said that mineral beneficiation was important as a lot of minerals from Nigeria were exported in their raw form.
“We are the worst for it, because when you export your minerals in the raw form, you lose a lot of value down the chain, you lose employment opportunities.
“So, we are encouraging that in Nigeria now, any mineral that is mined should be enhanced, value added before it is exported out of Nigeria.”
According to Adegbite, the Federal Government has established mine processing centres in six regional centres, representing the six geo-political zones of the country.
He said that gold in Nigeria had been going out to Dubai and lots of places and they would make jewellery out of it, and Nigerians go and buy them at 100 times the price.
“So, we are providing skills for our people to make jewellery out of our own gold, so that people come from all over the world they come to our souk, to buy the gold, not the raw gold, but to buy jewellery, you can buy bangles, you can buy rings.
“This is one of the things in the southeast. We are developing lead in Ebonyi, instead of exporting our lead in the raw form. Same thing we are developing barite in South South.
“In Ibadan which is a centre we have chosen for Southwest; we are developing a gemstones market. There is a gemstone market there now, where foreigners come from all over the world, they come and buy our gemstones.
“They buy them very cheaply because, you know when the stones come from the ground, they’re very rough, they’re ugly, it is until they polish them.
“In the North Central, we are having a project, a gold smelting plant in Kogi, that’s the sixth project, which federal government has done but government has done that as a pilot project for investors to see and notice.
“We are processing Kaolin in the North-East in Bauchi and kaolin is a product that is used in the paint industry and in the pharmaceutical industry.”
Adegbite said that this would enhance import substitution, job creation, increase revenue generation for the government and also take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
He added that after satisfying the local market, the products would of course go to Nigeria’s neighbours in West African and to the whole African market.
The minster was also optimistic that the processing centres would discourage illegality associated with trading raw minerals.
“What you are going to sell to somebody, the raw hull you are going to sell out there, somebody can buy from you at the same price because these prices are set internationally.
“So, what you are taking to Dubai to sell for them you can also sell it to a local producer, he will buy it from you at same price, but then there is an advantage when you sell locally, your logistics is zero.
“You just buy and sell but to take it there you have to use an aeroplane, you have to dodge immigration and of course, there are a lot of untoward activity there, perhaps bribe some people to get it out illegally.
“So, if you add all that cost by the time you take that from your profit, you will rather sell locally, which you do genuinely and openly, and of course even your conscience as a Nigerian that I am helping the economy of my country.”
He, however, said that for those who thrived on taking minerals outside Nigeria illegally, there was collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Police to nip such activities in the bud.