Arc Olamilekan Adegbite, the minister of mines and steel development, promised over the weekend that small-scale and artisanal miners may access loan facilities up to N100 million to increase their production.
In Ojoo, Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State, where he visited the continuing construction of the Gemstones Market, Adegbite informed the miners of this and asked them to organize cooperative groups in order to be eligible for the loans the government will arrange for them.
He claims that the miners’ cooperatives will be able to borrow between N2 million and N100 million, which they will pay back over a 15-year period at a five percent annual interest rate.
Additionally, he stated that a miner seeking access to a loan beyond N2 million would need to furnish the necessary collateral. A loan of N2 million or less would merely require a guarantor.
I realized that many people were unable to access the funds due to collateral, so I suggested that it be lowered so that those who needed minor loans of up to N2 million may do so without collateral but with a guarantor at level 14 or higher in the civil service.
He gave an explanation of the purpose of the market while he was at the site of the Gemstones Market’s ongoing construction, stating that gemstones will be sorted, graded, cut, polished, and prepared to be manufactured into jewelry there.
The majority of them would relocate to the market in Ibadan, including the Gold Souk in Kano, since they would be engaged in the production of jewelry and gemstones for local and international markets, he also said, adding that capacity building of people in the gemstones and jewelry industry is ongoing in Abuja.
The Minister claims that the Federal Government’s mining cluster projects in the six geopolitical zones show attempts to attract investors to the country’s solid minerals sector and that the facilities will also create a favorable environment for business.
Although he made it clear that the government would not be involved in the operation of the facilities, he stated that investors would also invest in the processing of minerals.
When these projects are finished, he continued, “we are looking at the Public Private Partnership, PPP, a system where we have facility 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 the government involved in the running of the six clusters.”
Sustainability, according to Adegbite, is still essential to the success of these projects. “It’s going to be a win-win business, whoever runs any of the projects will make money from it, will make money for the government, and will also enhance the value of what is produced in that particular neighborhood,” she said.
The establishment of six regional mineral processing clusters was praised earlier by the General Secretary of the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Dele Ayanleke.
Ayanleke also expressed optimism that these projects are feasible and have the potential to alter the industry’s perception, particularly as it relates to the nation’s artisanal and small-scale miners.
He further explained that they would increase productivity, foster confidence, and discourage the export of raw ore. As a result, he urged miners to take advantage of the five percent interest rate offered on the Federal Government’s available loan facilities in order to buy the essential mining machinery and other logistics for efficient operations and ease of doing business.