The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development is considering disbursing N200 million to 100 artisanal miners to boost mining activities in Nigeria.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.
He said that the fund would be drawn from the ministry’s N3.2 billion mining intervention fund, domiciled with the Bank of Industry (BoI).
Adegbite explained that two million naira each would be given to 100 artisanal miners to help them to operate their businesses.
He said that the ministry had an agreement with BoI in 2017, to contribute N2.5 billion, totaling five billion naira as intervention fund for artisanal and small-scale miners.
“The concept is that we give 2.5 billion naira to BoI in partnership and that BoI should add its N2.5 billion to make it N5 billion for the intervention fund.
“BoI is meant to disburse the fund because of the ministry’s past experience that the World Bank gave the ministry some funds to be disbursed to miners but it was not successful.
” That is why Gov. Kayode Fayemi, the then minister of this ministry gave the money to BoI, whose core mandate is to disburse the fund to miners that meet the criteria attached to the loan.”
Adegbite said that due to the stringent criteria attached to the loan by BoI, miners were unable to access the fund, adding that the ministry’s 2.5 billion had accrued interest of N1 billion from 2017 till date.
“Between 2017 till date, our N2.5 billion with BoI generated N1 billion interest, making it N3.5 billion but N300 million has been disbursed from our fund to some miners. We now have N3.2 billion remaining.
“The purpose of the fund is not to generate interest for the government. It is to develop the sector. We have relaxed the conditions attached to the loan to enable artisanal miners to access the fund.
“The criteria now is that artisanal miners can access the fund by getting a surety, an officer from grade level 14 upward.
“We decided to take N200 million from the N3.2 billion and loan it to 100 artisanal miners that meet our criteria.”
NAN learnt that the loan is to be made available at a single-digit interest rate of five per cent to address the lack of funds militating against artisanal and small-scale mining activities.