Speaking on Channels Television on Monday, the minister said the illegal miners have the backing of some influential people in the country.
Adegbite said there are efforts in place to curb smuggling.
“The people who smuggle the minerals out of Nigeria, of course, take it through our borders, whether through the airport or seaport. Part of our proposal is to strengthen the relationship between our ministry and ministry of finance which supervises customs,” Adegbite said.
“Personally, I have gone to see the comptroller of customs a few times and suggested a few things that could be done to nip this in the bud. Like I said, since I came into office, things have improved a little. A few people have been caught trying to smuggle gold out of Nigeria. Gold, because of its immediate value, is the most smuggled mineral out of Nigeria.
“We are also working with the ministry of interior that supervises immigration because most of those Chinese people that go on to do illegal mining came into Nigeria through immigration. They have some sort of stay or permit. Of course, not for mining. They came in another guise and find themselves in mining.”
In July, President Muhammadu Buhari said the country lost close to $3 billion to gold smuggling between 2012 and 2018.