Minister of Mines and Steel Development Arc Olamilekan Adegbite has underlined the Federal Government’s commitment to aiding artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) in having access to credit that will help them expand their operations.
He stated this during a weekend trip of the Gemstones Market in Ojoo, Akinyele Local Government Area, Oyo State.
In a statement made available to journalists in Abuja by the Director of Press, Mrs Etore Thomas, Adegbite urged miners to join cooperative groups in order to obtain access to funding set aside to help them with their operations.
According to him, miners can get loans ranging from N2 million to N100 million, with a 15-year repayment period and a 5% annual interest rate.
He said that a loan of less than N2 million, would just require a guarantor, whilst a miner requesting a loan of more than N2 million would require a cosigner.
According to him , “I realized that a lot of people could not access the money because of collateral and I advised that it be reduced so that those who need small loan of not more than N2million can access without a collateral but a guarantor of level 14 and above in the civil service.”
Speaking on the construction of the gemstones market, the Minister said gemstone market in Ojoo is where the gemstone would be identified and graded, cut, polished and ready to be made into jewelry.
He said the people being trained in gemstones design in Abuja would populate Ibadan gemstones market as well as the Gold Souk in Kano since they would be working on jewelries and gemstones.
He, however, noted that the gemstones mining is not limited to Oyo State as he pointed out other States where gemstones could be found to include Taraba, Plateau and Abuja among others.
The Minister re-emphasized that what the government is doing with the six (6) regional projects are demonstration of possibilities for investors as he encouraged them to take advantage of it and invest not only in mining but in processing as well.
On the operationalization of the regional projects, he said the government would not be involved in the running of the projects.
He added that, “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 who will run this projects and of course there will be recourse to government as appropriate but we don’t want to get government involved in the running of the six clusters”, he added.
Adegbite said sustainability is key in running of the projects as he explained that the government would give them to those who would run them profitably and generate revenue for government. “It’s 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”, he emphasized.
Earlier in his remarks, the General Secretary of Miners Association of Nigeria(MAN), Mr Dele Ayanleke commended the Federal Government for the establishment of the six (6) regional projects.
Ayanleke said the project would improve ASM productivity, boost their confidence and discourage export of raw ore.
He , therefore, called on Miners to take advantage of the 5% interest rate loan made available by the Federal Government to procure necessary equipment that would make them perform optimally.