THE World Bank has approved a loan of $150million for Nigeria’s solid minerals sector.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, was at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on the breakthrough in the loan negotiation with the world body.
He told State House correspondents after the meeting with the president that the loan would help the country with geological data, organising the solid mineral sector and boosting small and medium scale players in the industry.
“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 request that we made to them during the meeting in Washington,” he said.
Speaking on the benefit of the loan, he 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 helping 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.”
Fayemi dismissed concerned about the implication of so much borrowing by the country to finance its programme in view of the mounting debt profile, saying it makes sense to borrow to generate more revenue.
He argued: “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 industrialisation, I think it makes sense to borrow in order to generate more revenue.
“This is a very attractive concession loan with 1% and 30-year moratorium. It is basically like handing over money to us. That is why it is World Bank and not a commercial Bank.
“Fayemi said he also briefed the president on the activities of illegal miners and other programmes of the ministry including the outcome of his tour of the country.
He observed that despite the recession the country is going through, the solid mineral sector has continued to grow.
He added: “It is a sector that seems to have defiled recession according to how the bureau of statistics its growing while other sectors may be experiencing challenges that’s not to say that we have reached Eldorado.
“It is 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 sector we also discussed that.”
Also at the Presidential Villa to brief the president was the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs,
Usani Usani, who told corespondents that he briefed Buhari on issues of concern in the region and work progress in the ministry.
He said he told the president that the ministry meeting its target “and we also wish to achieve more.”