Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, has disclosed that the Federal Government has resolved to support Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners to access funds that will increase their productivity.
In a statement signed by Idowu Jokpeyibo for Director Press in the Ministry on Sunday, the Minister encouraged miners to come together as different Cooperative Groups to access funds set aside to support their activities. He said the Miners can access loan from 2million to N100million payable in 15years at 5% interest rate per annum.
Inspecting the ongoing construction of the Gemstones Market in Ojoo, Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State, Adegbite said a loan of N2million and below would only require a guarantor while a miner seeking to access a loan above the sum of N2million would need to provide the required collateral.
“I realized that a lot of people could not access the money because of collateral and I advised that it be reduced so that those who need a small loan of not more than N2million can access without a collateral but a guarantor of level 14 and above in the civil service,”, he further explained.
On the construction of the gemstones market, the Minister said the gemstone market in Ojoo is where the gemstone would be identified and graded, cut, polished and ready to be made into jewelry.
He said the people being trained in gemstones design in Abuja would populate Ibadan gemstones market as well as the Gold Souk in Kano since they would be working on jewelry and gemstones.
He however noted that the gemstones mining is not limited to Oyo State as he pointed out other States where gemstones could be found to include Taraba, Plateau and Abuja among others.
The Minister re-emphasized that what the government is doing with the six (6) regional projects are 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 operationalization of the regional projects, he said the government would not be involved in the running of the projects.
In his words, “by the time these projects are completed, we are looking at the system of PPP, where we have facility management and plant management systems in place who will run this projects and 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 added.
Adegbite said sustainability is key in running of the projects as he explained that the government would give them to those who would 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, will make money for the government, and also enhance the value of what is produced in that particular neighborhood”, he emphasized.
Earlier in his remarks, the General Secretary of Miners Association of Nigeria(MAN), Mr Dele Ayanleke commended the Federal Government for the establishment of the six (6) regional projects.
Ayanleke said 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% interest rate loan made available by the Federal Government to procure necessary equipment that would make them perform optimally.