The governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola, says that gold mining will assume the position of crude oil in the economy of the state shortly.
Mr Oyetola expressed optimism in Abuja on Sunday when he featured at the flagship interview session of the News Agency of Nigeria, known as “NAN Forum.”
He said that his administration was taking mining activities from artisanal to the corporate level, with the involvement of private sector players coming for exploration and export.
The governor said that apart from the current efforts of his administration to achieve mining sufficiency, Osun was a beneficiary of the presidential initiative on mining.
“Give us a few years to come, gold will be our oil in Osun State. Our state will be known for the major supply of gold in Nigeria and around the world.
“We are working with responsible miners. The two Canadian firms are doing pretty well and I believe that in no distant future we will be able to harvest a lot of our gold and refine them.
“I can talk about Badger Mines while the second one is still doing the MoU but the first one is already out there doing exploration and the result has been so far, so good.
“Don’t forget that we also have the Segilola Gold Project, which has established a refinery for gold in Osun State. It is a state government initiative too.
“We are also collaborating with the federal government on mining.
“Our state is one of the two states, along with Kebbi State, selected as pilot states for the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI),” the governor boasted.
He added that the intention was to encourage the youths to go into mining by giving them skills and some support, instead of the usual diggers and other things they use as excavators.
“The problem I have with that is the question of remediation. They dig but they don’t remediate. That is not good enough. They end up destroying our environment.
“You don’t destroy the environment and leave it like that.
“The ground they are digging is supposed to be for farming. So, if you don’t remediate, over time you may have a serious issue of environmental degradation like you had in the Niger Delta in those days.
“In whatever partnership we are entering with the people, we take the issue of environment serious. We need responsible firms that will do remediation and not destroy our environment in the name of mining,” he said.
Osun State is known for large deposits of minerals, including gold, lead, zinc, quartz, feldspar and several precious metals.