Wednesday, 14 June 2017

FG offers Ministry N30b access to natural resource development fund

FG offers Ministry N30b access to natural resource development fund

Yemi Osinbajo

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo gave the indication on Tuesday while opening the National Mining Summit in Abuja

The Federal Government has granted the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development access to N30 billion of its natural resources development fund.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo gave the indication on Tuesday while opening the National Mining Summit in Abuja with the theme “Unearthing Nigeria’s Mining Sector’’.

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He said that the measure was to address the challenges in the sector as well as ensure that the sector played key role in the economic diversification agenda.

Osinbajo said: “From the public purse the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has been granted access to the mining sector component of our natural resources development fund for a sum of N30 billion (approximately 100 million dollars) an intervention fund from the Federal Government.

“This is partly to help provide cheap loans and grants to industry participants as well as direct investment in foundational infrastructure.

“We are currently working with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, the Nigerian Stock Exchange and others to assemble, as we just heard from the D-G of the Stock Exchange, a 600 million dollar investment fund for the sector.

“Internationally, we have secured 150 million dollars in funding from the World Bank for the Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification, or Mindiver programme.’’

The Acting President said that the lifelines would provide technical assistance for the restructuring and operationalisation of the solid mineral development fund.

He also said it would make finance available to artisanal and small mining operators through micro finance and leasing institutions.

Osinbajo noted that besides financial investments the administration was also addressing the challenge of lack of geological data.

He said that the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency was undertaking the additional ground investigation nationwide to upgrade the national minerals data base so to attract financial investments.

He said the up-grade would also assure operators of the scope of operations required for further exploration and mining.

The Acting President said government had signed Memoranda of Understanding and technical cooperation agreements with the China geological surveys, Shandong Minerals Exploitations Agency, and the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines of Morocco.

The collaborations are intended to leverage on the expertise and state of arts technologies of those organisations and assist Nigeria generate investor friendly geo- science data.

He said that to support new entrants and more investors, the Federal Government was working to ensure implementation of a three-year tax holiday for new investors in the mining sector.

He said: “There is therefore no better time to make that long over-due transition from an oil-based economy to a truly diversified global competitive one, creating tens of thousands of jobs and promoting industrialisation in the process.”

Accordingly, he said the Federal Government was determined to achieve the goals of the mining sector in spite of the many legacies it inherited including low funding and lack of geological data.

Osinbajo also mentioned weak institutional capacity of the supervising ministry, limited infrastructure, limited cooperative federalism, low productivity, illegal mining and weak framework for managing host communities.

He also said difficulties in doing business and protected litigation on legacy assets created some bottlenecks which must be addressed.

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