The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has urged artisanal miners to expand their frontiers by registering with cooperative societies.
This according to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekun Adegbite, will enable them to access as much as N100 million loan at only five per cent interest rate.
Mr Adegbite said this when he appeared on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja. He said the low-interest rate fixed by the government for artisanal miners was part of its effort to encourage diversification of the economy.
Mr Adegbite, who said the loan repayment could span for a period of 20 years, urged them to form cooperatives to make access easier. He said the miners could form cooperatives of 10 people when approaching the ministry for the loan to make the process seamless.
According to him, once the miners come together to form cooperatives, the ministry will give them the appropriate equipment and license. He said that once the miners were registered, they would benefit from all incentives of the government like training and free tools.
“I was told we have more than a thousand cooperatives that have registered with us. Some of them have successfully transited from artisanal miners to small-scale miners. There are still many of them out there but we are winning because we are winning them over with incentives. So, because they are working, they are paying revenue to the government by paying their royalty, so it is a win-win situation,” he said.
The minister commended the ability of artisanal miners to detect mineral resources in spite of a gross lack of required gadgets.