Nigeria has for the first time refined its own gold and purchased the refined product into a new gold reserve.

The federal government has commenced moves to stem illegal gold exports estimated at annual revenue of up to $500 million to boost the nation’s foreign reserves.

Executive Secretary, Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI), Fatima Shinkafi, said in an interview with Bloomberg that the program will regulate production by informal miners that currently provide no income to the country.

Shinkafi noted that as much as 18 tons of gold is shipped to Dubai from Nigeria illegally every year.

According to her, PAGMI’s plan is to streamline the value chain dominated by foreign middlemen, into a supervised supply chain, targeted at enhancing government revenue.

She said that regulating artisanal gold will help diversify Nigeria’s economy at a time when lower crude prices are putting pressure on the government, adding that it would also allow the central bank to stockpile the metal.

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