The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite on Tuesday explained why miners in the country are yet to access the N2,6 billion mining fund approved by the Federal Government 3 years ago.
The Minister made the explanation during a press conference held at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja ahead of the 4th Annual Nigeria Mining Week coming up on October 14-16 in Abuja, with the theme, ‘Removing the roadblocks along the value chain: Setting the mining industry as a key driver for economic recovery’.
According to Vanguard, the event is being organized by the Miners Association of Nigeria, MA N. He also assured that the Federal Government will deepen the annual Nigeria Mining Week for better performance and impact on the nation’s mining industry.
The 4th Nigerian Mining Week is expected to attract over 1, 200 mining experts, 180 mines and exploration companies, 40 sponsors with over 24 countries to be represented.
According to the Minister;
"This Solid Mineral Development Fund, SMDF, seed fund, the $2.5 billion that was given in 2016. The main purpose is to help miners to develop, especially the artisanal and small scale miners. I must admit that three years now the money has not been disbursed, but the good thing is that the money is intact.
"There is only one disbursement from that money. I think a quarry in Oyo State was able to access that fund, which was N95 million. The problem actually is to design a model that would work. There is this tendency that government money as the share of the national cake so everybody is conscious of that risk and so they are being careful not to throw government money away.”
He added that “the N2.5 billion is with the Bank of Industry, and the Bank of Industry supposed to match that fund with another N2.5 billion to make N5 billion.
“We are designing some programmes to accelerate the disbursement of this money now. We are encouraging the miners to go into cooperatives because this supposed to be money that supposed to be accessed easily at low-interest rates, but at the same time, people are conscious of that fact that people could just take this money and elope with it and what is the guarantee to bring that money back.
“So one of the aims of the programme is to organise miners into cooperatives and let them understand that if one or two people get the money from their group and for other groups to access the money they have to return the money back to the people, and we going to apply peer pressure to monitor people who get the money. Not too long you will see this money in action and also grow the fund to get more money.”