By Michael Peter, The Sight News
Abuja: As part of efforts to diversify the nation’s economy, the Federal Government of Nigeria has on Tuesday launched a five billion naira (N5,000,000,000) Solid Mineral Support Fund for Artisans and Small Scale Miners in the country.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr.Kayode Fayemi said the funds, which is a component of a broader program: the Nigerian Artisanal and Small Scale Miners Financing Support Scheme, amongst other things, is designed to play a catalysing role in unlocking funding to the mining sector, create jobs, provide alternative source of finance to artisanal and small scale miners and integrate these categories of miners into the formal sector.
He added that other roles are; to attract investment capital into the sector, boost the contribution of the sector to Nigeria economic growth and enhance the growth and development in a structured manner in line with global best practices.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, between the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and the Bank of Industry on the Nigerian Artisanal and small scale miners financing support fund, Fayemi said “the focus is understandable considering that 80 per cent of miners in the country fall within the artisanal and small scale category.
He disclosed that the fund which shall be in loan form, will be managed by the Bank of Industry.”We are in the first instance lunching a N5 billion mineral sector support fund for artisanal and small scale miners.The BOI will be the custodian and manager of the Nigeria Artisanal and Small Scale Miners Finance Support Fund.
“They are not just going to manage, they are also putting their money where their mouth is.They are matching our N2.5billion contribution with their N2.5bllion contribution. This will finance Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Project involving industrial minerals, precious stones, precious metal, dimension stones, and such other strategic minerals in Nigerian as contained in our roadmap for the growth and development of the mining sector”.
Fayemi also pointed out that “the fund shall be available in form of term loans of working capital to be utilised for the following purposes; purchase of requisite items, plants and machinery, payment for drilling geological and other services related to mining business as may be required, and working capital for purchase of materials and other expenses”.
The loans to be granted under the fund, shall be from One Hundred Thousand Naira to Ten Million Naira for Artesonal Miners, and from Ten Million Naira to One Hundred Million naira for Small Scale Miners.
The Minister also disclosed that the loans will be made available to certified industry participants at a single digit interest rate of 5% per annum.
On his part, BOI Managing Director, Olukayode Pitan said “We at Bank of Industry are happy to work with the ministry, to deliver this needed facility to the artisan and small scale miners.
He said “this is not your part of the national cake. The idea is that once you receive the loan, if you repay it, others will be able to benefit from it”.