The Federal Government has set aside N5 billion to empower artisan miners across the country as part of measures to ensure participation of all Nigerians in economic development.
The Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, disclosed this on Saturday when he inspected the gold mining site at Garin Awal at Fakai Local Government Area in Kebbi State.
“We have N5 Billion in Bank of Industry for the use of small scale artisan miners, not only for self-equipping but to contribute to the economic development of Kebbi state and Nigeria, so that our economy will grow,” he said.
Fayemi explained that ISS-Hass Ltd, a Chinese mining company, has been in the community exploiting gold for more than three years, but had failed to develop the area by establishing schools, building roads, as well as providing portable water and employment for the youth, as part of an agreement entered into with the company.
He promised to investigate the allegations against the licensed operator in Garin Awal Village, Fakai Local Government of Kebbi State for alleged breach of agreement reached with the host community.
“We have seen what our artisan miners can do, which professionals in this business failed to achieve. That is from the very little efforts they are putting in place with their own efforts, digging and organising themselves.
“What we need is to enter into partnership with the state, to assist these miners, so that they could have land to operate, technical support as a way of improving their productivity and ensuring that they utilise the equipment beyond exploring mercury and finally support them through the Bank of Industry,” he said.
The minister, who expressed disappointment over the lack of commitment of licensed operators, said “the provision of the law stipulates that licensed operators must provide community support and this must be captured in an agreement, which we call Community Development Agreement.
“The village head has told us that all the things they promised, none of them were done. No school, they have not seen anything. They just did rudimentary road that provides access for the operators,” he said.
In his remarks, the state governor, Abubakar Bagudu, expressed appreciation to the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for its good policies, saying they had made the state to excel in agriculture.
Bagudu said the people of the state were ready to replicate the same achievement in the mining sector.