*Says N9bn Would Resolve Challenges of The Industry
The Miners Association of Nigeria on Friday called for increased budgetary allocation to revolutionised the solid mineral sector in the country.
The National President of the association, Alhaji Sani Shehu made the appeal in an interview with Independent in Abuja.
Shehu said the N9 billion allocated to the sector would not resolve the challenges of the ministry and boost the industry.
He noted that the budgetary allocation of the mining sector was the translation of government impression about the industry.
According to him, it may be difficult for the Federal Government to achieve its economic diversification plan through the solid minerals with low budgetary allocation.
Shehu recalled that some mining African countries invested as much as 60 million dollars on exploration in their 2016 budget.
He said over the years, the sector had only generated 0.1 per cent revenue into the economy due to lack of proper documentation.
“Our members are not happy with the allocation because it is too little to solve the mining sector alone, not to talk of the Ajaokuta and other steel companies.
“Mining is a priority area to focus on in order to diversify the economy; we were hopeful because the previous administrations made the same promises but no action”, he said.
He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the Solid Minerals Development Fund that was established by the previous administration to support miners was properly fund.
“The solid minerals development fund is a statutory fund, the provision of the fund is in the Mineral and Mining Act. It was established by the previous administration but we were unable to access funds.
“We are appealing to Mr President to bridge the budgetary gap through this fund initiative to move the mining sector forward”, he said
Shehu, who argued that it was imperative for government to assist miners with adequate funds, as the growth operational capacity of the indigenous miners could attract foreign mining investors said: “Mining is a project that requires huge capital; as a matter of responsibility, government must work out strategy to accomplish its diversification plan by assisting local miners.’’
While commending federal government plan to inject N350 billion into the economy in the next quarter, Shehu noted that some of his members would benefit from the funds.
“Some of our members in the quarry construction companies are part of the contractors on the federal government list to be settled”, he said
Meanwhile, Mr. Isaac Igwure, a stakeholder in the mining sector, said the budgetary allocation for the ministry was grossly inadequate to solve the needs of the sector.
According to him, mining requires huge capital and operators in the industry need government assistance.
He called on government to as a matter of urgency establish a mining bank in the country to assist the miners with credit facility.
“Currently, Nigeria does not have a mining bank; it is important for government to establish such institution to enable the sector developed.
“Mining requires huge capital; some minerals are found very deep in the ground, which means a lot of fund will be needed for exploration,’’ said Igwure.