Dr Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Mines and Steel Development has urged the Solid Mineral Development Fund (SMDF) to fast-track the approval of 600 million dollar loan from the Sovereign Wealth Trust.
Fayemi made the call in Abuja on Thursday at the inauguration of the Board of the SMDF.
He said that the ministry had commenced negotiation with the sovereign wealth trust to access the fund and inject it into the sector.
According to him, the ministry is also discussing with the Nigeria Stock Exchange to assist in packaging funds for the sectors.
The minister urged the board to ensure that the funds were approved and released for the sector.
Fayemi said that the constitution of the board marked an important milestone in the effort of the ministry to reposition the sector.
The minister said that the SMDF was established by section 34 of the Nigerian Mining and Minerals Act 2007, to address insufficient fund that undermined the growth of the sector.
He said the first quarter of 2017 GDP result recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics indicated that coal mining, metal ores and quarrying and other metals grew by 2.03 per cent, 40.79 and 52,54 per cent respectively.
Fayemi noted that there was more ground to cover as the sector had been recognised as one of the sectors to drive Nigeria’s economic recovery growth plan.
“The sector has been projected to grow and contribute to the GDP from N103 billion in 2015 to N141billion in 2020, at an average annual growth rate of 8.54 per cent.
“Other targets for the sector include the facilitation of coal to power plants towards bridging the energy deficits,’’ he said.
The minister said that the ministry aimed at producing geological map of the entire country by 2020.
He said this would be realised on a scale of 1:100,000, as well as integrate artisanal miners into the formal sector.
According to him, the SMDF is mandated to intervene in the development of both human and physical capacity in the sector, funding for geo-scientific data gathering, storage and retrieval to meet the needs of private sector led mining industry.
Others are, equipping the mining institutions to enable them to perform their statutory functions, funding for the extension services of small scale and artisanal mining operation and provision of infrastructure in mine sites.
He said that the board members are charged with restructuring and operation of the SMDF by designing the appropriate governance structure, organisation, strategies and operations for effective management among others.
The Chairman of the board, Alhaji Uba Malami, said the board members would work towards achieving the ministry’s target on economic recovery growth plan of N141billion by 2020.
Malani was the former commissioner for commerce, industries and tourism in Nasarawa state and one time Vice President, Industries of the Abuja Chambers of Commerce, Mines, Industries and Agriculture.
Hajia Fatima Shinkafi, was appointed as the executive secretary of the fund and the head of the secretariat of the SMDF.
She was the commissioner for commerce, trade, industry and cooperative in Zamfara.
Other members include, Mr Ademla Gbadegesin, Prince Theo Iseghohi, Mr Samuel Eze, Dr Uwatt Uwatt, representing the Central Bank of Nigeria and Ms Yinka Mubarak representing Bankers committee.