The Federal Government has reiterated its resolve to support artisanal and small-scale miners to access funds that will increase their productivity.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, made this known over the weekend, during his inspection of the ongoing construction of the gemstones market in Ojoo, Akinyele local government area of Oyo State.
Adegbite encouraged miners to come together as different cooperative groups to access funds set aside to support their activities. He said the miners can access loans from N2million to N100million, payable over 15 years, with an interest of 5 per cent per annum.
Adegbite said a loan of N2million and below would only require a guarantor while a miner seeking to access a loan above that sum will need to provide the required collateral.
“I realised that a lot of people could not access the money because of [request for] collateral. Therefore, I advised that it be reduced so that those who need a small loan of no more than N2million can access without collateral but a guarantor of ‘Level 14’ and above in the Civil Service,” he further explained.
Adegbite said the gemstones market in Ojoo is where the gemstones will be identified and graded, cut, polished and ready to be made into jewellery.
He said the people being trained in gemstones’ design in Abuja would populate the Ibadan gemstones market as well as the gold souk in Kano since they will be working on jewellery and gemstones.
He however noted that gemstones mining is not limited to Oyo Stat, as he pointed out Taraba, Plateau, Abuja, among others, as places where gemstones are found.
The minister re-emphasised that what the government is doing with the six regional projects is a demonstration of possibilities for investors, as he encouraged them to take advantage of it and invest not only in mining but in processing as well.
On the operationalisation of the regional projects, he said the government would not be involved in the running.
“By the time these projects are completed, we will look to the PPP system, where we have facility management and plant management systems in place who to run these projects. Of course, there will be recourse to government as appropriate but we don’t want to get the government involved in the running of the six clusters,” he explained.
Adegbite said sustainability is key in running the projects. As a result, he said, the government will give them to those who will run them profitably and generate revenue for the government. “It’s going to be a win-win business. Whoever runs any of the projects will make money from it, make money for the government and enhance the value of what is produced in that particular region”, he emphasised.
Earlier in his remarks, the general secretary, Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr Dele Ayanleke commended the Federal Government for the establishment of the six regional projects.
A statement by the ministry’s director of press, signed by Idowu Jokpeyibo, said Ayanleke noted that the project would improve ASM productivity, boost their confidence and discourage the export of raw ore.
He called on miners to take advantage of the 5 per cent interest rate loan made available by the Federal Government to procure necessary equipment that will help them perform optimally.