Federal Government may have moved a step further, towards activating the nation's minefields, with a release of guidelines on the disbursement of the $10 million (N1.15 billion) fund to over two million Informal Artisenal and Small Scale Miners (ASSMs) in the country. The fund was sourced from the World Bank.
Under their guidelines, the miners would only access the fund through their respective co-operative movements.
The Minister of State, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Gusau said in Abuja yesterday that the process was to fast-track the integration of the informal miners into the formal and modern state of mining practices.
According to him, ASSMs operations in Nigeria will henceforth be guided through a cooperative modalities to access the $10 million World Bank loan.
Already, more than the two million ASSMs have registered themselves into about 450 cooperative societies. Gusau said that if their operations are well organised and developed, it will generate wealth, reduce poverty and lead to accelerated growth in the rural communities.
In line with this development, he said the agency is putting in place a two-day workshop for the miners and mining communities in Jos from July 10, 2008.
He said the essence of the workshop is to sensitize the operators on the focus to develop their role in Nigeria, and also to present the modalities for assessing the micro-grants to the ASM and Mining communities.
He said: "The fund is designed to finance equipment, training and support services to scale up operations and improve livelihoods in ASM mines," the Minister stated adding that the grant will also fund social and physical infrastructure or provide diversifications of livelihoods in mining communities
"As a guide to the disbursement and management of the Fund", Gusau pointed out that "a manual on the modalities for the disbursement of micro-grants to ASSM miners and mining communities is also ready for presentation to the stakeholders.
He said: "One thing that should be noted is that we are trying to convert illegality to something that is more meaningful to Nigerians to participate, we have people that are doing illegal mining that have no paper, no address they will just go there to degrade our land and cause pollution.
"Today we have with us a system whereby we register them assist them to access fund and do their exploration in a legal way"
Gusau explained that the ministry has fashioned a strategy for the development of ASSM with the following objectives, which include improving efficiency and skill of mining and processing techniques of operators, increasing the level of production and income, promoting access to finance and product markets; and improving health and safety practices.
Source: The Guardian