The Federal Government has secured $150m from the World Bank for the solid minerals sector support and economic diversification.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, disclosed this while briefing the press in Abuja on Monday on the activities of the ministry in 2016.
He also said that the ministry was seeking to raise $600m investment fund for the sector in alliance with the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority.
According to the minister, the World Bank fund will be used to provide technical assistance for the restructuring of the Mining Investment Fund.
Fayemi said, “We are working with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, the Nigerian Stock Exchange and others to assemble a $600m investment fund for the sector, which we hope to conclude and operationalise by the second quarter of 2017.
“We have secured support from the World Bank for $150m for the Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification programme, a critical component of which is to provide technical assistance for the restructuring and operationalisation of the Mining Investment Fund, which will make finance available to artisanal and small mining operators through development finance, microfinance and leasing institutions.
“The fund will also help to bring back on stream previously abandoned proven mining projects like tin ore, iron ore, coal, gold and lead-zinc.”
He added, “We are working to retrieve old data obtained on the various mineral deposits across the country, as well as enter into joint ventures with private exploration companies to generate new data from our Greenfield explorations. We hope that analysis of this information will help to further buttress our speculations on the quantity and quality of mineral deposits in the country.
“Our Nigerian Geological Survey Agency has undertaken additional ground investigations nationwide to upgrade our National Minerals Database and to further ascertain the assays of our mineral assets to the level that can easily attract financial investments and assure operators of the scope of operations required for further exploration and/or mining.
“We have improved the productivity of the sector by tripling the ministry’s contribution to the Federation Account to about N2bn in 2016, up from N700m in 2015.”
He also stated that the government had constructed 10 prototype minerals buying centres across the country for specific strategic industrial minerals.
Fayemi said the centres were to serve as standardisation centres to enable artisanal and small mining cooperatives and operators receive fair premium for their labour.
The minister also inaugurated the Mining Implementation and Strategy Team as well as 38 project vehicles purchased at a cost of over N400m for mines’ inspection.
The Mining Implementation and Strategy Team, which is headed by the Chairman of Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, Prof. Olugbenga Okunlola, is tasked with the responsibility of implementing the Federal Government’s blueprint for the mining sector.