Mining stakeholders knock government’s rules on accessing N15b loans
Local miners have complained that the stringent measures put in place by the government have hindered them from accessing the N15 billion facility loans meant to boost the mineral sector in the country.
They said that despite the conditions, which forced them to form cooperative societies, as stipulated in the pact, many of the members still find it difficult to approach Bank of Industry for the money.
One of them, Godwin Ojo, who spoke to The Guardian, explained that government should involve artisanal operators instead of looking for foreign investors, adding that local people would protect and secure the mining environment.
According to him, cooperative societies are keys in boosting local mining, but we call on government to check illegal activities, especially the mineral titles without any capacity to process them.
Also speaking, a mining expert, Sadiq Honge, explained that the loan was a right step in the right direction for miners, but it’s sad that the arrangement had false foundation, and there was no awareness on it.
“We would pursue and get across to Bank of Industry and Central Bank of Nigeria, to get small scale miners involved. Some people and politicians won’t use the platform to outsmart ordinary miners,” he said.
On her part, Abiodun Baiyewu of the Global Rights argued that artisanal miners constitute 80 per cent, but government has not made adequate loan facility for them, saying that mining is about participatory.
Mr. Patrick Ojeka of Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Department explained that they are gathering geosciences data to be used as bankable data for mining operators in the country.
“Federal government is no longer looking at this group as illegal, but now informal artisanal miners. It wants to encourage the growthe of the sector in line with Economic Rehabilitation Growth Programme, ERGP.
“They are the ones who lead the foreign miners to sites. They have organised themselves into cooperative societies before but there is internal rancour and politicking in the disbursement of the loans,” he said.
However, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, has expressed optimism that Federal Government would reposition artisanal mining by raising it to mechanised level of operations.
“There is need to promote the mining and steel sector so as to generate more revenue for the government, and to will attract foreign investors. Therefore, we have hope that in no distance time the operations will be digital level.”
The Minister of State, Dr. Okechukwu Ogah, also said that it is high time mining took its pride of place in the country, adding that before oil, mining was already contributing its quota to the revenue of the country.
“No country can become a mining destination or successfully attract mining investors without having to first generate accurate geo-science data and information for investors to take advantage of,” he said.
Permanent Secretary, in the ministry, Dr. Abdulkadir Muazu, urged mining investors to key in to the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP) by government to provide geo-science for the investment.
He said although Nigeria is not yet recognised as a mining destination, it is committed in becoming one through NIMEP, which will give investors accurate data to help guide them in mining business in Nigeria.