From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The World Bank has approved $150 million financing to support the development of the Nigeria’s mining sector as part of an Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification programme. The loan is meant to provide technical assistance for the restructuring of the Mining Investment Fund, which will 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, 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 the president on the activities of illegal miners, the tour around the country and the gradual improvement the sector is beginning to witness.
Fayemi told State House correspondents after briefing President Buhari that “it’s a sector that seem to have defied recession according to the bureau of statistics as it is growing while other sectors may be experiencing challenges. But that’s not to say we have reached eldorado. “It’s a journey and we are beginning to see 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.”
On how the $150 million loan will affect the mining industry, the minister said, “Three issues stand out. For instance, 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. “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.