By Teddy Nwanunobi
Abuja (Sundiata Post) — The World Bank Group has approved the sum of $150 million financing to support the development of Nigeria’s mining sector as part of the Mineral Sector Support for the economic diversification programme.
The concession loan with 1 percent and 30-year moratorium, is a critical component of which is to provide technical assistance for the restructuring and operationalisation of the Mining Investment Fund (MIF).
It is expected to make finance available to artisanal and small mining operators through development finance, microfinance and leasing institutions.
The fund will also help to bring back on stream previously abandoned proven mining projects like tin ore, iron ore, coal, gold and lead-zinc.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who described the loan as a major break, briefed President Muhammadu Buhari about the approval, which came last Friday.
He also briefed President Buhari on the activities of illegal miners, the tour around the country and the gradual improvements the sector is beginning to witness particularly in relation to the growth.
Fayemi spoke to the State House correspondents, after briefing Buhari.
“It’s a sector that seem to have defiled recession according to the bureau of statistics its growing, while other sectors may be experiencing challenges that’s not to say that we have reached eldorado.
“It’s a journey, and we are beginning to see concrete development, and the President, as you know, also approved an intervention fund for this sector, the first of its kind in the history of the mining sector we also discussed that,” he said.
Fayemi also spoke on how the $150 million loan will affect the nation’s mining industry.
“Well, three things. Geological data is very important to us, and part of this money is going to assist with geological data. It’s also going to contribute to our organising the informal sector into a formal sector, providing some access to funding, and helping them with technological equipment for the artisenal miners.
“It is also going to help us, there are many miners that have done extensive exploration, but to move to production has been a challenge, so for those, who are crossing over from exploration to exploitation and to actual mining, we believe that giving them some assistance would help boost the industry, particularly the small and medium scale players in the industry.
“Of course, the President had his usual banter we discussed around the work we are all doing in government,” he said.
He also spoke on the concerns over too much borrowing.
“Well, if the nation is borrowing to pay salaries or to attend to recurrent expenditure, that concern might have been valid; but if we are borrowing in order to develop a sector that has a potential for exponential growth and multiplier effect on other sector particularly industrialisation, I think it makes sense to borrow in order to generate more revenue.
“This is a very attractive concession loan with 1 percent and 30-year moratorium. It is basically like handing over money to us. That is why it is World Bank and not a commercial bank,” he added.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani, also briefed Buhari on the activities of his ministry.
“I came to brief the President on issues of concern in the region and work progress in the Ministry. I told him that we are meeting our target, and we also wish to achieve more.
“Every Nigerian is concerned that the East-West Road is not completed yet. Work is in progress.
“It is not true that the ministry has not commissioned projects. We have commissioned one and about four others are ready for commissioning. Some health centers will soon be ready and some classroom blocks are being painted now and equipment are ready,” Usani said.
The Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, also briefed Buhari on the progress happening in the sports sector.
“I came to update the President about the progress recorded so far in our efforts to reposition the sports sector, especially the forthcoming national federation elections with the guidelines that have been approved by the stakeholders forum. The process for the elections has been kick started,” Dalung said.