Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, Honourable Minister for Mines and Steel Development

Nigeria urges miners to access N5bn loan, improve production capacity

*The Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development organises a training programme to teach local miners more techniques to improve their production, market their businesses, and access the N5 billion loans from the Federal Government and BoI

*Stakeholders urge the government to soften the stringent conditions placed on the N5 billion loan facilities approved for miners

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In a move to enhance local capacity building in the emerging sector of the economy, the Nigerian Government has initiated training programme for local miners in the country to enable them improve production and access a N5 billion loan facility.

The Federal Government has contributed N2.5 billion and the Bank of Industry (BoI) contributed another N2.5 billion, totalling N5 billion loan for local miners.

Mr. Patrick Ojeka, Director of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) in the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Abuja, FCT, disclosed this on the sideline of four-day training for local miners Friday, February 19, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.

Ojeka represented by Mr Etido Umoakpan, an official in the ministry, said that the programme was organised to provide extension services to mining cooperatives, small-scale miners and quarry associations in the South-south region.

An artisanal and small-scale mining site in Nigeria

He stated: “The event is one of the Federal Government’s obligations as enshrined in the 2007 Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act to provide extension services for artisanal and small-scale miners.

“So, we are here to introduce to the miners the various aspects of mining such as: safety, health procedures and how they can carry their mining activities in a safe and sustainable way.

The ASM Director noted: “We are also teaching them more techniques to improve their production; how to market their businesses and how to access the N5 billion loans from the Federal Government and the BoI.”

According to the official, ASM operations were carried out in the 36 states and the FCT with over 500,000 people directly involved in the industry.

The government is passionate about increasing production of minerals in order to enhance the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and earn foreign exchange through export of the minerals.

Ojeka said: “However, the feedback we are getting from the miners is in the area of multiple taxations; the difficulty in accessing the loans and lack of adequate equipment.

“The ministry is already looking into some of the challenges raised by the miners on multiple taxations by government agencies and also looking at softening the conditions for the loan.

“We have also told them that there are times when the government gives grants that are non-refundable – which may not be physical cash but in the form of machinery,” he said.

The government is also planning to provide extension services to miners in areas of prospecting and exploration services, mineral testing and data for proven mineral reserves, according to him.

He as well listed others as mining design and planning, and provision of teaching equipment and plant for hire and regular workshops for miners to improve their knowledge and skills.

Mr. Odey Wilfred, one of the participants, thanked the Federal Government for organising the workshop and pleaded with the government to address the challenges of multiple taxations.

Odey, a sand and gravel miner, urged the government to soften the stringent conditions placed on the N5 billion loan facilities approved for miners.

He stated: “Providing small-scale miners’ access to finance our operations will enable us to expand our business as well as employ more hands, thereby reducing current unemployment.

“Currently, we have over 700 employees working with us, including loaders, drivers and marketers among others in other professional fields.

“So, we urgently want the government to come to our aid and provide us the needed support.”

ConsumerConnect recalls Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, Honourable Minister for Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) October 2020 said the ministry was relaxing conditions attached to mining intervention loan meant for miners.

Adegbite had told the news agency in Abuja that the conditions would be relaxed for artisanal miners to enable them access the loan which was domiciled with the Bank of Industry (BOI).

The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) had signed a Memorandum of Understand (MoU) with the Bank of Industry (BOI) August 2017 to give N5 billion intervention loan to artisanal and small scale miners.

The intervention fund was a joint venture in which the BOI provided 2.5 billion, while the Ministry also provided N2.5 billion.

It is said to be part of efforts by the Federal Government through the MMSD at reviving the mining sector as a means of economic diversification in Nigeria.

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