Buhari Okays $150m World Bank loan for mining sector
By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari has okayed a $150 million loan for the development of the mining sector in the Solid Minerals ministry by the World Bank.
Briefing newsmen yesterday after a meeting with the President behind closed door, Minister for Solid Mineral, Kayode Fayemi, said “Yes, I have come to brief the President about what is going on in the mining sector and to particularly inform him of the major break through we had on Friday with the world bank approving the $150million dollar request that we made to them during the meeting in washington.
“And then the activities of illegal miners; the work we are doing with regards to that; my tour around the country and the gradual improvements we are beginning to see in the sector particularly in relation to our growth.
“It’s a sector that seem to have defiled recession according to the Bureau of Statistics; it’s growing while other sectors may be experiencing challenges. That’s not to say that we have reached Eldorado.”
“It’s a journey and we are beginning to see concrete development and the President, as you know, also approved an intervention fund for this sector. The first of its kind in the history of the mining sectorwe also discussed that,” he said.
Asked how the loan will affect the mining industry, Fayemi said “Well, three things: geological data is very important to us,and part of this money is going to assist with geological data, its also going to contribute to our organising the informal sector into a formal sector providing some access to funding and help them with technological equipment for the artisanal miners.
It is also going to help us. There are many miners that have done extensive exploration but to move to production has been a challenge.
So, for those who are crossing over from exploration to exploitation and to actual mining, we believe that giving them some assistance would help boost the industry, particularly the small and medium scale players in the industry.”
Asked he was unconcerned about the nation’s rising debt profile, the minister said “Well, if the nation is borrowing to pay salaries or to attend to recurrent expenditure,that concern might have been valid.
But if we are borrowing in order to develop a sector that has a potential for exponential growth and multiplier effect on other sector, particularly mining, then there is no cause to worry,”
On Buhari’s response, he said “Of course the President had his usual banter we discussed around the work we are all doing in government.” Similarly, the Minister for Niger Delta, Pastor Usani Nguru Usani, also briefed the President on the activities of his ministry.