…Miners call for Solid Mineral Devpt Bank.
By Rose Daniels
About N11.2 billion is now known to have been trapped in the various financial institutions owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria meant for the funding and development of the mining industry, otherwise known as the solid mineral sector.
The institutions include, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM) and the Bank of Industry (BoI).
The CBN is said to be holding N6 billion on post-COVID-19 Intervention Fund, the BOI is holding N5billion in its Intervention Fund for Artisanal and small-scale miners, while NEXIM is said to be holding N200m small-scale miners fund.
Meanwhile, the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), has decried the lack of adequate funding in the mining sector, attributing the situation to the inability of the Federal Government to effectively implement the various funding initiatives.
Speaking to newsmen in Abuja yesterday, the Acting National President of MAN, Musa Muhammad, said “the Federal Government through the CBN, NEXIM bank, BOI and other financial institutions in Nigeria have announced one intervention or the other for the Nigerian mining sector in the last decade without trace of implementation.”
He added that the lackadaisical approach of the intervention fund was adversely affecting artisanal and small-scale miners who managed 90 per cent of mining activities in Nigeria.
Muhammad urged the Federal Government to accord the solid minerals sector similar attention and funding models similar to those in the agricultural sector.
The miners also called for the establishment of the Solid Mineral Development Bank, which would attend to the needs of miners and ensure that they have access to the funds required for the development of the sector.
According to the miners, this bank could give loans to miners at a two per cent digit rate, as mining operations were capital-intensive.
There was also a call by the miners for a review of the 100 per cent mining asset ownership policy accorded to foreign nationals to curtail insecurity in the country. Muhammad said it was crucial for the Federal Government to review the policy as it had given foreigners indiscriminate access to mining locations across the country.
He also said that major challenges facing the sector included a lack of enforcement capacities in terms of human, logistics and infrastructure.
He added that the lack of growth in the sector and the presence of all forms of illegality and criminality could be traced to poor regulatory enforcement capacity and extension service workers as provided in Section 91 of the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act 2007.