The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, has reiterated Federal Government’s determination to support Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (ASM) with funds to increase their productivity.
Adegbite made this known in a statement issued by Mrs Etore Thomas, the Director, Press and Public Relations of the Ministry on Sunday in Abuja.
The minister, who inspected the ongoing Gemstones market construction at Ojoo, Akinyele Local Government Area in Oyo State, said that miners should come together as different cooperatives to access funds set aside to support their activities.
” Miners can access loan from N2 million to N100 million, payable in 15 years at five per cent interest rate per annum,” he said.
Adegbite said a loan of N2 million and below would only require a guarantor while a miner seeking for loan above N2 million would need to provide required collateral.
“I realised that a lot of people cannot access the money because of collateral, then I advised that it should be reduced so that those who need small loan can access it without collateral.
“A Grade Level 14 officer and above in the Civil Service is required as a guarantor for a loan not more than N2 million,” he said.
On the construction of the gemstones market, the minister said the market was located where the gemstone would be identified, graded, cut, polished and ready to be made into jewelry.
He said the youth currently undergoing training on gemstones design in Abuja would populate Ibadan gemstones market as well as the Gold Souk in Kano, as they would be working on jewelries and gemstones.
“Gemstones mining is not limited to Oyo, the mineral is also available in Taraba, Plateau, Abuja, among others.
“What the government is doing with the six regional projects are demonstration of possibilities for investors, miners should take advantage of it and invest not only in mining but in processing as well.”
On the operationalisation of the six regional projects, he said the government would not be involved in the running of the projects.
“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.
“We don’t want to get government involved in the running of the six cluster projects.
“Sustainability is key in running of the projects, government will give them to those who will run them profitably and generate revenue for the government.
“It is going to be a win-win business, whoever runs any of the projects will make money from it, will make money for government and also enhance the value of what is produced in that particular neighborhood.”
Earlier, the National Secretary, Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr Dele Ayanleke, commended the Federal Government for the establishment of the six regional projects.
Ayanleke said the project would improve ASM productivity, boost their confidence and discourage export of raw ore.
He called on miners to take advantage of the five per cent interest rate loan made available by the government to procure necessary equipment that would make them perform optimally.