By Victoria Ojeme, Gabriel Ewepu & Ifeoluwa Mic-braimoh
ABUJA—THE Federal Government and the Bank of Industry, BoI, yesterday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, on N5 billion on funding support for artisanal and small scale miners.
The MoU was signed by Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi for the management of Nigerian Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners, ASM, while the Managing Director of BoI, Kayode Pitan, signed for the bank.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Fayemi said the Ministry contributed N2.5 billion, while BoI put down N2.5 billion, which amounts to N5 billion, adding that BoI would be the custodian of the Fund.
He also said the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bwari, was appointed as the Ministry’s representative in managing the fund.
He said the fund was to address the protracted problems, including funding and financial challenges of artisanal and small scale miners.
According to him, the fund will enable them purchase necessary equipment for their operations, facilitate job creation, increase productivity, boost economic growth and promote economic diversification.
He said: “This agreement is a meeting of minds between the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and the Bank of Industry, BoI. We are, in the first instance, launching a N5billion fund.
‘’With our ministry’s pilot contribution of N2.5 billion, BoI will match our contribution with another N2.5 billion.
“Consequently, with this agreement, the FMMSD appoints BoI as the Custodian and Manager of the Nigerian Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners (ASM) Financing Support Fund, for the purpose of financing artisanal and small scale mining projects involving Industrial Minerals, Precious Stones, Precious Metal (Gold), Dimension Stone and such other strategic minerals in Nigeria as shall be approved by the FMMSD and BoI from time to time.
“The Fund shall be available in the form of term loans or working capital to be utilized for the following – purchase of requisite items of plant and machinery, payment for drilling, geological and other services related to mining business as may be required, working capital for purchase of materials and other expenses.
“The single obligor limit of loans to be granted under the Fund shall be from N100,000 to N10,000,000 for Artisanal Scale Miners; and from N10,000,000 to N100,000,000 for Small Scale Miners.
“The loans would be made available to certified industry participants at a single digit interest rates of five per cent per annum, which is by far the most attractive within our jurisdiction.”
In his remarks, Managing Director, BoI, Kayode Pitan, noted that this was the first time this kind of funding was put together in the mining sector.
He said: “Basically, it is not just money that will be thrown away; it will be fully analyzed, we will work with the industry.”