Minister of mines and steel development, Olamilakan Adegbite, says illegal gold mining has become lucrative because gold price is rising despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Adegbite stated this while speaking to the press on government plans to prosecute 19 foreign nationals caught in illegal mining in Zamfara and Osun state recently.
” If you notice keenly, the states where the foreign illegal miners are apprehended are states were gold deposits are found, Osun and Zamfara. Of course, one can guess why gold at this time. Because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic all over the world, other metals/minerals are not selling much because industries who will use them have shut down,” Adegbite said.
The minister said because of the economic problems associated with the pandemic, currencies are losing their value and gold is the safest currency in the world now selling at $1,768.
He added that because the price of gold is rising daily at the international stock market, the demand for it has increased which has also increased the illegal mining of it by foreign nationals in Nigeria.
“The foreign nationals that have been identified are Chinese, Burkinabes, Senegalese but particularly, the Chinese.
“In Osun, 17 foreigners have been apprehended while in Zamfara, just two of them. We are taking them to the Federal High Court, their case is being compiled,” he said.
Adegbite said if Nigeria guarded her gold reserves and made sure they exploited properly, the revenue derived from it would be comparable to what is gotten from oil and gas.