Nigeria legalises artisanal mining in bid to earn $500 million a year

Nigeria has made key changes to its gold mining regulation, including the legalising of artisanal mining and the creation of gold buying centres, as the government looks to cash in on the informal sector.

President Muhammadu Buhari said last week that the state hopes to earn US$500 million a year in royalties and taxes while creating 250,000 jobs through the reforms.

“These operations will help in diversifying our revenue base,” said Buhari. Nigeria has lost a total of $3 billion from 2012 to 2018 because of illegal gold mining, the President added.

The extra revenues from artisanal gold production would represent a timely windfall after the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting crash in the global oil price cut off much of the government’s income.

In February, Nigeria licensed two gold refineries mainly to produce gold for the central bank to hold in its reserves but also for export. The bank also received its first locally-produced gold bar on Thursday.

Nigeria has largely untapped deposits of 44 minerals including gold, iron ore, coal, tin and zinc, in more than 500 locations, but mining currently makes up just 0.3% of the economy.