The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved N30 billion as intervention fund for mining exploration in the country. Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, made the disclosure in Abuja. The funds (1.6 per cent) would be derived from the federation account.
“FEC rectified the president’s anticipatory approval for Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to qualify to access the national resources fund.
“You will recall that in August FEC approved the road map for the growth and development of the mining sector.
“In recognition of Mr. President’s campaigns promises to Nigerians and in particular his consistent statement to diversification particularly in agriculture and mining sector, Council ratified the approval of N30 billion intervention fund for the mining sector. It will be highly focused on exploration. Exploration is the heart of mining, if you don’t search you won’t find.
“You have heard all sorts of talks about how rich Nigeria is in mineral resources but the quantity, quality, the geological prospectively has been a challenge because we have neglected the sector for such a long time”,he said, noting that for Nigeria to attract mining investment, the country must first have an investment-based geological data.
He gave an instance of smaller countries like Burkina Faso that spend averagely $300 million a year on exploration.
“This is why Council approved this for mining and this is significant because this is the accessing of natural source development fund which has been made 1.68 per cent of the federation account. It is an equivalent of the ecological fund and the Education Trust Fund.
“It is meant primarily for agriculture sector, mining sector and the water resources sector. And this will cover exploration primarily but also research and development in partnership with our universities, it will also cover security and mining in partnership with the ministries of Interior and Defence and the DSS just to tackle the menace of illegal mining across the country. It will also support small scale miners with grants,” the minister said.
He said that the government was in negotiation with Sovereign Wealth Investment on mining in order to access private capital to mining and the Nigerian Stock Exchange, which according to him will be ready in a month’s time.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said the council approved advisers that would sit with General Electric as experts to negotiate the concession arrangement for the railway concession project.
He said the firm had proposed 25 years of concession period which is still open to debate.
According to him, the rehabilitation would encourage movement of cargos and passengers, adding that GE will do everything required to rehabilitate and invest on other railway infrastructure.