Wednesday, November 18, 2020 2:10 pm
By Isa Isawade
Gemstones which are precious stones of different shapes and sizes mostly found in rocks and streambeds are among the legions of mineral resources yet to be tapped in Nigeria.
The stones usually come in two different forms- the Precious stones and the Semi-precious stones. Precious stones are diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds. They are usually ranked according to their hardness- the harder the more precious. While other stones such as Tsavorite green garnet, alexandrite, agate, amethyst, aquamarine, garnet, lapis lazuli, moonstone, etc. are regarded as semi-precious stones.
These very valuable resources, said to be available in almost all countries of the world, have for many years been raking in billions in currency for some countries likeColombia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Australia, Bostwana, Russiaand many more.
Researches have revealed that African Continent has the largest deposit of diamond in the world, and Nigeria which does not feature among notable suppliers to the world market, has been discovered to be a host to heavy deposit of precious stones.
The very few individuals in the country who engage in mining of the stones are shortchanged owing to lack of awareness of its real value andinefficient method of mining.
What are the opportunities provided by these precious stones and how Nigerians cantap into it are the laudable goals intended by the Tuesday 17 November free online seminar entitled: ‘Tapping into the opportunities of the Gemstones Industry’ organized by the Africa House.
The well-organized lecture extensively explained the features, formations and processes involved in production and trade of gemstones. Participants were also availed with the information on many ways one can make good money in the industry. Illustrative images of gemstones mining activities from different countries were displayed to drive home points.
States in Nigeria with heavy deposits of gemstones especially Paraiba tourmalines, according to information provided at the seminar, are Bauchi; Benue; Kaduna; Katsina; Kogi; Nasarawa; Ogun; Ondo; Osun; Oyo, and Plateau.Tsavorite is also said to be in abundance in states like Gombe, Plateau, Taraba, etc.
Among highly coveted gemstones found in Nigeria are Sapphire; Amethyst; Aquamarine; Emerald; Garnet,tourmaline and Zircon.
To impress it on listeners how valuable the precious stones are, picture of a greenish ring costing 15,000 Euros (N6,765,000) which was made from tourmaline was displayed for all to see.
What are gemstones used for?
The seminar brought home to participants many wealth creating uses gemstones are put to.
First, they are primarily used as jewelry which are precious items that show royalty, class and wealth.
Second is investment. Gemstones collections are among the most secure investments ever known, because gemstones or jewelry don’t depreciate. Buying them for keep is a smart way of saving one’s resources from the effects of inflation.
Third, it’s a veritable source of national income. Many countries have become economies to reckon with by virtue of their exploration of gemstones. A case of Botswana which was the second poorest country in Africa before discovery, in commercial quantity, of diamond and many other semi-precious stones was cited. Botswana is today one of the richest countries in Africa. The country has so much organized the sector to the extent that only refined gemstones are allowed to be exported, thereby maximizing its monetary value.
What is the current state of gemstones mining in Nigeria?
It is unenviable, very primitive and crude with its attendant environmental hazards, especially to the miners. They still rely on the archaic, strenuous and inefficient method of using tools like pickaxes, hammers and chisels rather than the more efficient modern mining equipment.
Nigerian government needs to follow the good examples of countries like Sri Lanka, Bostwana, etc who have streamlined that sector of their economies in order to get real value for the precious resources. Like Bostwana, we should also make deliberate policy to refine our stones before export so as to maximize the prosperity it offers. The same quantity of raw gemstones that fetches one$1,000 can fetch $20,000 after refining.
The following, as highlighted at the seminar, are ways an individual can tap into the great opportunities in gemstones industry to make quick fortunes:
In conclusion, gemstones sectorin Nigeria is a goldmine waiting to be tapped. Both the country and her citizens can, in no distant time, attain enviable economic prosperity even beyond what crude oil has been offering if the opportunities in gemstones industry are adequately harnessed.Individuals wishing to take the opportunities need to get adequately informed about the necessary know-how of whichever aspect of the business they prefer; about the process of obtaining licence from the Ministry of Mines; about the right equipment, and certification process.