…express optimism in mining mechanisation
By Gabriel Ewepu
Miners under the auspices of Miners Association of Nigeria, MAN, have hailed the Federal Government over the recent inauguration of ‘Development Partners and Donor Agencies Coordination Group on Mining’ by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi.
The National President of MAN, Alhaji Shehu Sani, said the committee, which was purely from the private sector, would positively turn around the sector and greater achievement for diversification of the economy.
Sani described the inauguration as a step in the right direction and said it would open a new vista for the mining value chain in the country, and attract more investors naturally.
He said: “I think it is a step in the right direction and it is in line with our initial position that mining development fund should be sourced from multiple financial windows.
“So we have, for a long time, realised the need for multiple spenders to come in because the task of rejuvenating the mining industry has gone beyond the capacity of the government in view of their multiple programmes and expenses in running the country, taking into consideration that the federal income is reducing and the expenses are increasing. So it is difficult for them to inject the required funds that are needed to reinvigorate the mining sector.
“We are happy with this development and we are also confident that with the kind of donors we are seeing, we hope in the nearest future, the donors will start to provide the needed funds.”
However, according to the miners’ boss, relying on donors to fund the sector would not be sustainable; rather it should be interim measures over a period of time to jump start the reform process, while government should weigh other options, and sustainable funding for the sector.
Meanwhile, he said with government’s intervention by setting up equipment hiring centres in places where high level of mining activities are going on, it would go a long way to boost the productivity of miners, particularly those who are not buoyant to afford major equipment.
“Nothing is difficult for the government, it is just a matter of necessary framework and it is very easy. The equipment manufacturers and the equipment leasing companies will be more comfortable to work with the government because there are some guarantees attached to it. So it is just a matter of putting together a committee that would talk with the equipment companies, draw a timetable and strategy on the implementation.
“For a start we could prioritise where mining activities are high, because as you are starting, you are observing lapses, you are amending before to stabilise.
“We have an initiative, that is the Miners’ Mechanisation Programme, MMP, where we are talking with some companies in Nigeria who have partners in Britain and other countries that have expertise in dealing with refurbishment of mining equipment so that they will bring it and we access it through our local companies.
“Though there must be a banking guarantee to back up the arrangement. At that time we approached Nigerian Export and Import Bank, NEXIM, and they were willing to do the guarantee, however, we had a challenge in our constitution, which we were not empowered to go into business as this. So we have amended our constitution about three months ago and now we want to start that Miners Mechanisation Programme, MMP.”