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FG May Expand N200 Million Artisanal Mining Fund – Minister

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The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite has disclosed that the Federal Government may expand its N200 million fund for artisanal miners depending on the scheme’s success.

The Minister disclosed this at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) flagship Forum in Abuja.

The Minister revealed that mining funds totalling N3.2 billion have been domiciled with the Bank of Industry (BoI) to boost mining exploration in Nigeria, citing that N200 million of the interest of a N2.5 billion fund is being disbursed as funding to artisanal miners.

Adegbite stated that though the initial loan programme has been a success, it was realised that there were other categories of artisanal miners that needed much lesser than the N10 million minimum loan.

“When it was set up, it was from a minimum of N10 million to N100 million maximum that people can access at five per cent interest rates, and we have had some success story.

What we now realised was that there were a lot of small others, artisanal miners, small scale miners, who do not even need up to N10 million, which was the minimum,” he said.

“So, they were excluded because you say minimum N10 million, maximum N100 million and you know the way banking is, if you want to take N10 million from a bank, the collateral is times two minimum.

But there are some artisanal miners there that all they want to enhance their activity is to buy a water pump, so that they have water to wash their oars, so they can bring out what they need a bump of N500,000, that is all they need someone to buy for them,” he added.

He added that the N200 million fund was available to many small scale artisanal miners, in a bid to allow lower-end people to benefit from this new scheme.

“So, if it works out, yes we can expand that and maybe make more money available up to half a billion, but we need to be careful,” he said, warning that most artisanal miners must pay back borrowed funds.

Adegbite stated that though the initial loan programme has been a success, it was realised that there were other categories of artisanal miners that needed much lesser than the N10 million minimum loan.

“When it was set up, it was from a minimum of N10 million to N100 million maximum that people can access at five per cent interest rates, and we have had some success story.

What we now realised was that there were a lot of small others, artisanal miners, small scale miners, who do not even need up to N10 million, which was the minimum,” he said.

“So, they were excluded because you say minimum N10 million, maximum N100 million and you know the way banking is, if you want to take N10 million from a bank, the collateral is times two minimum.

But there are some artisanal miners there that all they want to enhance their activity is to buy a water pump, so that they have water to wash their oars, so they can bring out what they need a bump of N500,000, that is all they need someone to buy for them,” he added.

He added that the N200 million fund was available to many small scale artisanal miners, in a bid to allow lower-end people to benefit from this new scheme.

“So, if it works out, yes we can expand that and maybe make more money available up to half a billion, but we need to be careful,” he said, warning that most artisanal miners must pay back borrowed funds.

Nairametrics reported earlier this year that the Mining Minister announced that the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would help reduce illegal mining in the country and also standardize Mining practices in Nigeria.

“Right now, many Nigerians are into artisanal mining and this was caused by the fact that when oil was discovered, Nigeria moved away from mining, which was the mainstream of the economy.

But with AfCFTA coming into effect, we hope that other countries will cooperate with Nigeria because now it is a free trade but there is documentation,” the Minister said.

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