Abuja -The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology on Friday decried the way gemstones minerals were being smuggled by miners out of the country in raw and semi polished forms.
Winifred Oyo-Ita, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry made this known in an Interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Oyo-Ita called on governments at all levels to place a close watch on illegal exportation of gemstone minerals.
Gemstones are minerals noted for beauty, durability and hardness which makes them useful for jewellery.
Some of the most popular gemstones available in Nigeria are sapphire, aquamarine, beryl, emerald, tourmaline, garnet, topaz, quartz, zircon and amethyst.
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The gemstones can be found in Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, Bauchi, Kauna, zamfara, Benue, Kwara, Oyo and parts of FCT.
According to her, there are huge markets for gemstone minerals outside the country, adding that the stone markets in the country lack adequate regulation.
"We are calling on government to enforce proper regulations on artisan miners and ensure that the laws are institutionalised.
"Nigeria is blessed with adequate mineral resources across the country; this is the time that we need to put in conscious effort to diversify our economy from crude oil to mineral resources," she said.
The permanent secretary said that the present administration has the will and determination to move Nigerian economy out of crude oil exploration which is fast diminishing.’’
She called on governments at all levels to train miners and youths on proper mining, how to cut and polish gemstones.