Gemstones. Source: Nairaland

Nigeria loses about $3bn yearly to the illegal export of gemstones, according to stakeholders in the mining and steel industry.

These stakeholders spoke under the umbrella of the African Gems and Jewellery Exhibition and Seminar.

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It was at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday in partnership with the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

Spokesperson of the group, Ambassador Regina Edzuwah said “Nigeria is endowed with [an] abundance of precious and semi-precious stones that have the possibility of fetching billions of dollars on the world market such as sapphire, ruby, aquamarine, emerald, tourmaline, topaz, garnet, amethyst, zircon amongst others.

“Experts in this field have said that copper-bearing tourmalines, for instance, which is a rare form of tourmaline found in Oyo State, can fetch up to $5,000 per carat in the international market.

“Therefore, gemstones business is a big income generator through which the country should be making good money.

“We in AGJES wish to reiterate our desire to see the end of the era of producing and shipping out raw materials from the country and urge miners to set up processing plants and machinery in order to add value and create wealth for themselves and jobs for our teeming youth.”

On her part, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Georgina Ehuria, said “Much of what has been happening is illegal. It is under the table business.

“What we need to do is to reverse that. If we can reverse the $3bn loss, you can see what impact gemstones can make on the nation’s economy.”