To boost the capacity of artisanal and small-scale miners to participate in the development of the solid minerals sector, the Federal Government launched N5 billion Nigerian Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners, Financing Support Fund to grant loans at single digit interest rates.
This effort is a departure from the past, where only N352 million was released to the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, out of the N1 billion allocated to it in 2015.
The Fund, which is operated by the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in collaboration with the Bank of Industry, would be available for only certified artisanal small-scale miners, constituting more than 80 per cent of the operators in the industry.
Under the terms of the memorandum of understanding signed on Tuesday in Abuja:
- The government would contribute N2.5 billion of the Fund, which would be matched by another N2.5 billion by BOI.
- Qualified artisanal miners would be allowed to access between N100,000 and N10 million, while small-scale miner could get between N10 million and N100 million.
- The launch of the Fund will address the challenge of insufficient funding and poor access to capital, which poses a major factor militating against artisanal and small-scale miners who account for the bulk of activities in the mining sector.
- BOI would serve as the custodian and manager of the fund, to be given to the artisanal and small scale miners at five per cent interest rate.
- The Fund would facilitate financing of artisanal and small scale mining projects involving industrial minerals, precious stones, precious metal (Gold), dimension stone and such other strategic minerals in Nigeria as would be approved by the ministry and BOI from time to time.
- The Fund would be available in the form of term loans, or working capital, to be utilized for the purchase of requisite items of plant and machinery; payment for drilling, geological and other services related to mining business as may be required, among others.
In addition to the funding support from multilateral agencies, partnerships on technical cooperation, Mr. Kayode Fayemi, the Minister for Mines and Steel Development, said several agreements were also brokered or re-activated with foreign governments.
These include existing technical partnerships with the governments of South Africa, China, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America in line with the framework of Africa Mining Vision, to develop mining.
Source: Premium Times