…Urges govt to procure mining equipment with N30bn intervention fund
23 May 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The President, Miners Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Sani Shehu, has advised the Federal Government to put adequate measures on ground to identify genuine foreign mining investors before issuing them visas.
Shehu, who gave the advice in an interview with journalists in Abuja, said some foreign miners did not have the intention of mining but to promote illegality.
He urged the need for caution, in light of recent Federal Government order that foreign investors should be given visas within two days, added that the pronouncement would make lots of them to disguise into the country as investors, especially as miners.
He said, “The Acting President, Prof. Osinbajo’s initiative that visa should be issued to foreign investors within two days was a good development and it is a practical demonstration to attract foreign investors.
“But adequate measures must be put in place before issuing visas to foreigners to invest in Nigeria.
“There are some foreign mining investors that are using illegal miners to get minerals without paying taxes, mining fees, royalties and they escape to their countries with raw minerals,” Shehu added.
According to him, that is the reason illegal miners are on the increase across the country; the foreigners motivate and buy the minerals from them at cheaper rates.
Nigeria will now process all tourist and business visas within two days, the vice president’s office said on Friday.
Considered to be Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria is presently mired in recession, even as government enacts new policies to improve the ease of doing business in the country.
Part of the executive order recently signed by the Vice President would ensure that foreign investor and other applicants would be notified whether their visas would be issued or rejected within 48 hours.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Shehu has advised the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to release part of the N30 billion mining intervention fund for the purchase of mining equipment.
Shehu said that part of the fund should be utilised for the purpose as soon as the Federal Government released it.
He said that miners did not have the equipment for mining because of the high cost of the machine.
“Miners could not afford to purchase even one of the equipment needed for mining. We need modern mining equipment; the ministry must take into consideration the need to support miners with necessary equipment to meet up with the mining global best practices,” he said,
He urged the ministry to translate and sustain the fund and the 150 million dollars World Bank loan recently approved for the sector, when released.
He said for Nigeria to breakthrough and compete with other mining countries, adequate funds and equipment were required, urging the government to release more funds for the sector.”
“The N30 billion and the 150 million dollars World Bank loan are like drop in the ocean, compared to serious mining development.”
He said as part of efforts to increase mining activities in the country, the association had approached the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) and Bank of Industry to access loans for its members.
The minister of mines and steel development said that the N30 billion Fund would soon be released by the ministry of finance.
The fund would be drawn from the 1.6 per cent natural resource fund domiciled in the Federation Account for the development of agriculture, mining and water resources sectors.
The fund was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari during the Federal Executive Council meeting (FEC) in October 2016.