Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja
About N20 billion has been spent from the N30 billion mining intervention fund for the ministry of mines and steel development, immediate past minister of state of the ministry, Alhaji Abubakar Bwari, has said.
The intervention fund, approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in November 2016, was drawn from the Natural Resource Development Fund to focus on exploration activities, which were the centre of the mining sector.
Speaking during a reception held in his honour last week in Abuja, Bwari disclosed that N14 billion was drawn from the N30 billion for mineral exploration and N2.5 billion was taken from the intervention fund and earmarked as loan to support the artisanal miners.
The former minister pointed out that the exploration would help the federal government to know the quality and quantity of minerals available nationwide. “The N2.5 billion artisanal mining loan is in the custody of the Bank of Industry (BoI), and it could only be accessed by miners that meet the criteria required,” he said
He also said that 110 mega watt power plant in Ajaokuta steel, light section and rolling mills were currently being renovated through the fund. According to him, part of the money was used for the renovation of the metallurgical centre in Jos, Plateau.
“About N10 billion is remaining from the N30 billion is being used for the payment of on-going activities and renovation,” he said. He said that some of the challenges facing the sector include lack of fund and capacity to monitor mining activities across the country. According to him, the sector needs more hands, investors and funding.