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FG set to relax conditions attached to mining loan

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Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, says the ministry is relaxing conditions attached on mining intervention loan meant for miners.

Adegbite told the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday 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)

NAN recalls that the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) had signed a Memorandum of Understand (MoU) with the Bank of Industry (BOI) in 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.

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This was part of efforts by the Federal Government through the MMSD to revive the mining sector as a means of economic diversification.

The loan is to be made available to certified mining industry participants at single digits interest rate of five per cent to address lack of fund which was a major factor militating against the artisanal and small scale miners operations.

“One of the ways we can make artisanal miners access the fund is to relax the conditions attached on the loan.

“We have agreed that N200 million will be set aside from the N5 billion and eligible artisanal miner with proof of payment plan can only access N2 million.

” Artisanal miners applying for the loan should get a guarantor on Director level in the Public Service.

” We can give more to any artisanal miner that invested the N2 million on mining with result to show and can pay back.

” We are not relaxing the conditions for the small scale miners, but they can still access from N10 million to N100 million, if they meet up with the conditions,” he said.

The minister said that no fewer than 10 miners have been able to access the loan, adding that BOI has also notified the ministry of another 20 successful applicants that would soon be paid.

Adegbite said that the ministry had accessed N15 billion from the N30 billion mining intervention fund which was spent on exploration of some strategic minerals.

“There were seven strategic minerals identified out of the 44 minerals available in Nigeria but the 15 billion was only sufficient for exploration of five minerals out of these seven minerals,” he said.

The intervention fund for exploration was approved by the Federal Executive Council in November 2016.

The fund was drawn from the Natural Resource Development Fund as intervention fund to focus on exploration, which is the heart of mining.

According to Adegbite, the five minerals which are being explored and on which data are being acquired are gold, barite, lead zinc, limestone and coal.

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