By John Okeke
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, has said that the disbursement of the sum of N311 million out of N1.08 billion for 13 loan applications approved by Bank of Industry (BOI) as at September 30, 2020 was not encouraging.
This was contained in a statement by Ijomah E. Opia from the ministry’s press unit .
The Minister stated this in Abuja on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, at the one-day workshop organized by the Ministry Of Mines and Steel Development for Artisanal and Small Scale Miners across the country to deliberate and proffer best ways of accessing the intervention fund.
He disclosed that as at September 30, 2020 a total of 138 applications totaling N14. 59 billion was received by the Fund and are at various stages of processing. “This disbursement is however low when compared to the total application, largely because applicants have failed to meet the necessary but stringent requirements stipulated by the bank,” he noted.
“I am quite glad about today’s workshop which has brought together industry operators from across the country to deliberate and rub minds together on how best to access the support fund for artisanal and Small scale Miners. Mining in Nigeria is still largely artisanal based, which is why the Ministry created a department called Artisanal and Small Scale Mining, to provide institutional support for artisanal miners who form the bulk of the operators and manpower in the sector,” he emphasized.
The Minister, represented by his Special Assistant Mr. Olu Adedayo, said the Ministry is working assiduously to ensure that the difficulties inherent in accessing the fund are removed.
“We are developing a unique template and favourable template for the disbursements of the fund. This includes equipment-leasing and hire-purchase loan facility. We are of the belief that the new template when fully operational would spur enormous growth in the sector, “he said.
Adegbite reiterated President Buhari’s commitment to reposition the Mining Sector as a way of diversifying the economy to create wealth and expand the range of economic opportunities available to Nigerians. He therefore urged the miners to be to come up with legitimate ideas that would enhance the template for the disbursement of the fund.
In his opening remarks, the Hon. Minister of State, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah, stated that President Muhammadu Buhari graciously set aside the fund to boost the activities of artisanal mining so as to contribute to the economic development of the country.
He, however, stressed that N5billion is set aside as revolving loan and not a grant, emphasizing the need for judicious use and repayment.
Ogah reiterated that the Bank of Industry (BOI) is always willing to partner with the artisanal and small scale miners and the Ministry, adding that they should be sincere in providing required information in their applications to the bank.
Speaking in the same vein, BOI representative at the workshop, Mrs. Olayinka Mubarak, stated that the partnership between the Bank and the Ministry is to boost the activities in the mining value chain through the ASM. She lamented the slow repayment of loans by beneficiaries, stressing that the fund is a loan and not a grant hence integrity is key to accessing the loan.
She emphasized that BOI is development in nature and not about profit making, and encouraged them to key into the laid down processes of accessing the loan.