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Miners query Minister on whereabouts of W/Bank’s N45bn support for sector in 2016

Angry miners who are protesting the rising cost of licences in the sector have raised questions for the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. kayode Fayemi, seeking to know how the N45bn support for mining development in 2016 was disbursed.

This is as  the Minister in a town hall meeting weekend in Abeokuta , said  with proper attention and planning, the mining industry is capable of taking the country out of recession.

While noting that despite the country’s abundant mineral resources, Nigeria cannot be said to be a mining nation, he said “We are a mineral nation, but we are not a mining nation. In the 70s, mining contributed to 50 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) so what went wrong?”.

The town hall meeting had representatives of small-scale miners, Lafarge Nigeria Plc. and Dangote Group of Companies both of which own cement factories in the state.

The minister said, with the dwindling revenue from oil, exploitation of the country’s abundant mineral resources remained a major source of the country’s income.

Fayemi explained that mining is on the exclusive list, hence he frowned at what he described as the “tension” between many states and the Federal government over taxation on the mining industries.

Though he was silent on the disbursement of the N45bn support fund from the World Bank, he quick to identify multiple taxation by the Federal and state governments, lack of geological data, proliferation of illegal miners among others as challenges facing the sector.

Fayemi revealed that auditors from states, where mining is taking place, would meet with officials of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission on the adoption of modalities on the percentage of derivation to be paid to such states.

A miner who spoke to Business Hilights on grounds of anonymity said “Some of us in the industry are getting worried on the impacts made by the World Bank support given to Nigeria for the sector towards the end of last year”.

“We believe that if the facility was adequately used for what it was meant for, the sector would have stood firmly and the high cost of mining licence would have been reduced in order to encourage us to grow the industry.

“How can a government use the plights of miners to secure support from the World Bank and we the end users cannot see or feel the impacts more than three months after.

It would be recalled that in December 2016, the federal government through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development secured N45billion support from the World Bank for the mineral sector support for Economic Diversification (MSSED or MinDiver) programme.

The news was broken by the minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi himself on December 19 during his address at a session organised to present the Nigerian Mining Sector Year 2016 in Review and Projections for Year 2017, with the theme “On the road to share mining prosperity, the Journey so far”.

Fayemi had made it clear that “We have secured support from the World Bank for the funding of $150 million Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification ((Economic Diversification MSSED or MinDiver) programme.”

“A critical component of the support is to provide technical assistance for the restructuring and operationalisation of the Solid Minerals Development Mining Investment Fund (SMDMIF), which would make finance available to ASM operators through development finance, micro-finance 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 among others.”

The aggrieved argued that since this year, none of their members had accessed anything from the SMDMIF and no member of the ASM operators had gotten anything so far.

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