THE African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (CLSD), an NGO, has called on the Federal Government to remove the encumbrances making it difficult for artisanal miners to access its N5 billion artisanal and small scale mining loans.
The centre’s Executive Director, Mr Monday Osasah, made the call in a statement on Sunday in Abuja, while commending Federal Government for initiating the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative to enhance gold mining.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with the Bank of Industry (BOI) in August 2017, to give N5 billion intervention fund to Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners across the country.
The intervention fund was a joint venture between the BOI that provided N2.5 billion and the ministry that provided another N2.5 billion.
The effort was to rejuvenate the mining sector as part of Federal Government economic diversification plan.
It is expected to eliminate illegality while supporting youths, who are interested in mining, to do their business properly and legitimately.
Osasah advised government to extend its political will to ensure that the conditionalities attached to the N5 billion loan facility put together by the ministry and BOI were looked into.
He said the measure was critical to make the loan easily accessible, particularly those that had formalised and perfected their registration with the ministry and the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN).
“As government warms up to expand the scope of the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative to States with gold endowment, it should ensure fairness by making sure that no state is left behind.
“The biometric exercise that will bring this about should rely on data of formalised mining co-operatives known to the ministry.
“A good timeframe announcing the commencement of the exercise should be determined and released early so that artisanal miners, who are yet to register and formalise with the ministry, can have ample time to do so,” Osasah said.
He further advised government to demonstrate its willingness for diversification and formalisation of co-operatives by supporting the initiative of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development of organising 25 artisanal mining co-operatives in two states in each geo-political zone.
He said government should also support the ministry’s initiative of one mineral per local government area.
Osasah said government’s support for the initiatives was critical because it could help address the effect of the drop in oil price and the country’s growing debt profile.
He added that government’s support for the initiatives was critical to strengthening its diversification policy and catalysing the investment potentials in the solid mineral sector to create jobs and wealth.
NAN further reports that the N5 billion mining intervention loan was supposed to be made available to certified mining industry participants at a single digit interest rate of five per cent.
The aim of the intervention was also to address lack of access to funding which has been hindering artisanal and small scale mining operations in the country.
MAN President Kabir Muhammed has, however, said there was need for BOI, which was saddled with the responsibility of disbursing the fund, to review the loan conditions, to enable miners access it.
He said that rather than putting stringent measures in place, the bank should work out modalities to allow the association guarantee its worthy and certified members.
The president, who said that the loan facility had been laying in the bank for three years, noted that it was only one person that was able to access N90 million from the fund since it was deposited.
“There is need for both the bank and the Federal Government to come up with suitable formula to enable miners access the fund, and we are ready to collaborate with both parties to achieve this,” he said.
Muhammed advised that any miner with proven identity and a site that had large deposit of gold or other mineral, which had been certified by international organisations, should be allowed to use his certificate as collateral.
– Jul, 19. 2020 @ 15:50 GMT |