The Miners Association of Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja commended the World Bank for extending its programme on the Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources Project.
The News Agency of NigeriaÂ reported that the 20 million dollars (N3 billion) World Bank assisted project which ended in December 2009 was further extended for 23 months to now terminate in December 2011. The Public Relations Officer of the association, Mr Sunny Daduri, told said that the extension was timely as it would further promote and sustain development in the sector.
Daduri observed that the bankâ€™s grantÂ had assisted in re-positioning the sector. He said that the various legal and institutional framework put in place by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development had strengthened the sectorâ€™s operations.
According to him, the programme has also reduced illegal mining activities throughÂ the formalisation of the sub-sector into more than 400 cooperatives.
â€œThis process has made disbursement of funds to artisanal miners easy, it will also enhance professionalism through the various capacity building programmes for the miners,â€ he said.
He called on the ministry to complement the efforts of the World Bank through the establishment of a similar fund as well as encourage Nigerian financial institutions to support the sector.
It will be recalled that Mr Craig Andrews, the World Bank lead mining specialist had earlier disclosedÂ that the project had made remarkable achievements in the last five years. Andrews said that in spite of the extension, the project would be under the existence of the current financing of 120 million dollars (N18 billion), adding that additional funding would be considered.
According to him, achievements recorded so far have led to increased foreign investment in the sector although the country is viewed as a virgin mining territory.
Under the project, more than 30 Mining Associations and Cooperatives have been given funds totaling more than N100 million from 2009 to date.
Also, more than 100 artisanal and small scale miners ranging from Gemstone and Dimension stone mining have carried out â€œTrain the Trainerâ€ programme on mineral identification and exploration methods.