THE Federal Government has approved N30 billion intervention fund to boost mining and exploration activities in the country, as part of deliberate efforts to diversify the economy of Nigeria.
The initiative was part of the effort of the government to reflate the Nigerian economy, following the recession while, at the same, streamline the extractive industry in Nigeria.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who briefed State House correspondent after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, lamented lack of geological data in the solid minerals sector.
He said the FEC, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, approved the fund to serve as incentives for local miners and investors, in the bid to stimulate growth in the sector.
He disclosed that deployment of the funds would cut across all exploration activities relating to agriculture, water resources, transportation, including research and development in partnership with local universities in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, FEC has also concluded arrangement to concession the narrow guage railway lines in the country to General Electric, an American firm.
According to the preliminary arrangement, General Electric would rehabilitate the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail lines, which will pass through Port Harcourt, Aba, Umuahia, Enugu, Makurdi, Jos, Gombe, Bauchi to Borno.
It will also rehabilitate that of Lagos to Kano to pass through Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Ilorin, Kano, Funtua, Zaria and terminate at Kauradamuda.
According to the Minister of Transport, RotimiAmaechi, who gave further insight into the project, he said it was essentially to encourage freight movement, particularly of agricultural products.
He said over N30 million worth of freight ought to be transported from the Lagos-Kano route daily, but the country presently moves slightly above 100 tonnes.