A not-for-profit organization, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) has lauded the Buhari administration for initiating the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative put together by the administration to develop gold mining in the country. It also called on the President to weigh in and remove the encumbrances that has made it difficult for artisanal miners to access the N5billion artisanal and small scale mining loan scheme put together between the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and the Bank of Industry.
The Executive Director of the Centre, Mr. Monday Osasah in a statement issued on Saturday in Abuja said, while the gold initiative is commendable as it is part of government efforts to supporting the Artisanal Miners across the nation, and eliminate illegality so that youth who are interested in mining will be supported to do their business properly and legitimately, he charged the government to extend its political will to ensure that the conditionalities attached to the N5billion loan scheme are looked into, to ease its access by artisanal miners across the country, particularly those that have formalised and perfected their registration with the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
He further said that as the government warms up to expand the scope of the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative to States with gold endowment, following the success of the pilot, government should ensure fairness by making sure that no state is left behind. The biometric exercise that will bring this about should rely on data of formalized Mining co-operatives already available with the Ministry, and a good timeframe announcing the commencement of the exercise should be determined and released early so that those artisanal miners who are yet to register and formalize with the Ministry can have ample time to do so.
He also charged government to further demonstrate its willingness for diversification and formalization of co-operatives by supporting the Ministry’s initiative of organizing 25 artisanal mining co-operatives in 2 States in each geo-political zone and its initiative of one mineral per LGA with subnational governments (States and Local Governments).
This has become imperative as the effect of the drop in oil price and the growing nation’s debt profile, can be partly addressed by strengthening efforts and pursuing the diversification policy of the government through the support and sustenance of programs that can catalyze the investment potentials in the solid mineral sector to create job and wealth.