The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has said the sector contributed about N3.5 billion to the Federation Account in 2017.

Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who disclosed this at the 2017 end of the year ministerial briefing on Thursday in Abuja, said the ministry made steady progress in 2017, having surpassed the N2 billion it generated in 2016.

“In 2017, the ministry featured in the story of our journey to economic recovery and consolidation; the GDP figures for second quarter 2017, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics indicated that the economy grew by 0.55 per cent.

”The improved performance was not only the Oil and Gas sector, but other economic activities like mining; sector grew by 2.24 per cent in that quarter.

“The mining sector remains a critical factor in the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020) which projects that the minerals and metals sector will be one of those that will drive Nigeria’s recovery.

It is also expected to grow sectoral contribution to GDP from N103 billion (2015) to N141 billion in 2020, at an average annual growth rate of 8.54 per cent.

He said 2017 had been very eventful, adding that the ministry exertions were centered on advancing the reforms that began in 2016, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s mandate to diversify the economy through the mining sector.

He said in line with the ‘Roadmap’ for the sector approved in August 2016, the ministry’s aspiration remained to “build a world class minerals and mining ecosystem designed to serve a targeted domestic and export market for Nigeria minerals and ores.

He said the ministry had established a new department to monitor and control the local mineral trade chain comprising purchasing, sales and export.

He said in its short span, the department had been able to put forth a roadmap for the development of a sustainable framework for mineral trade and export ecosystem.

The Federal Government, has announced plans to commence a Gold Purchase Scheme early next year, aimed at increasing revenue accruable from the country’s abundant gold deposit.

The scheme, according to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, would include equipping of the artisanal miners, provision of extension services and off-take of all gold produced by participants in the scheme.

He said Kebbi and Osun States have been chosen as pilot states for the scheme, adding that the scheme would facilitate employment, reduce poverty and increase revenue to the Federation account.

The Minister who lamented that the vast majority of the country’s gold are transacted underground without any record of financial accrual to the government, said the gold purchase scheme would attract international buyers of gold.