Federal Executive Council Approves N30 billion Intervention Fund for Mining
Okays Plans to Concession Railway Rehabilitation to G.E.
As G.E. Seeks 25 Years to Recover Investment
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the sum of N30 billion as intervention fund for the mining sector.
This was disclosed yesterday by the Minister for Information and Cultures, Lai Mohammed while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of the FEC meeting at which President Muhammadu Buhari presided.
At the briefing were Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi and Minister for Transport, Rotimi Amaechi.
Also yesterday, the council approved the plans to concession the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail lines to General Electric (GE) at no cost to the government.
The rail lines would, from Port Harcourt, pass through Aba, Umuahia, Enugu, Makurdi, Jos, Gombe, Bauchi to Borno.
Mohammed, said the council ratified the president's anticipatory approval for the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to qualify to access the national resources fund.
He said "You will recall that in August FEC approved the road map for the growth and development of the mining sector.
"In recognition of Mr. President's campaign's promises to Nigerians and in particular his consistent statement to diversification particularly in agriculture and mining sector, council rectified his approval of N30 billion intervention fund for the mining sector.
"It will be highly focused on exploration. Exploration is the heart of mining. If you don't search you won't find.
"You have heard all sorts of talks about how rich Nigeria is in mineral resources but the quantity, quality, the geological prospectivity have been a challenge because we have neglected the sector for such a long time.
"If we really must attract mining investment into the country, we need investment grade geological data for those who are in mining to be engaged in the sector. And having looked at what has been done in other countries even smaller than Nigeria, countries like Burkina Faso spending averagely $300 million a year on exploration and Ghana and Cote d Ivoire and so on and so forth.
"This is why council approved this for mining and this is significant because this is the accessing of natural source development fund which has been made 1.68 per cent of the federation account. It is an equivalent of the Ecological Fund and the Education Trust Fund."
Shedding more light on the fund, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi added "It is meant primarily for agric sector, minning sector and the water resources sector. This will cover exploration primarily but also research and development in partnership with our universities. It will also cover security and minning in partnership with the ministries of Interior and Defence and the Department os State Security just to tackle the menace of illegal minning across the country."
Fayemi said the funding would also support small scale minners with lands.
He said that FEC also stressed the importance of inter-ministerial coordination.
In this wise, Fayemi said his ministry would . work with the ministries of transportation, power, works and housing, environment on how to esnure safer mining practices and ministry of health.
"Whatever we do eventually can help us build a multi-sectoral focus on mining and also encourage private sector investment in the sector," he added.
He said government was already negotiating with sovereign investment on mining to also attract private capital to mining as well as to have access to the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
He said: "The guidelines will be ready in a month."
On the planned concession of rehabilitation of rail lines to General Electric (GE), Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, said "For the Transport sector, I'm sure you are aware of an attempt to concession the railway to General Electric (GE), council approved the advisers that would sit with GE as our own experts to negotiate
According to him, the narrow gauge railway will, to a great extent, assist the agriculture, mines and steel development ministries in the transportation of the extracted minerals.
He said: "We are rehabilitating, at no cost to government, the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri which include Port Harcourt, Aba, Umuahia, Enugu, Makurdi, Jos, Gombe, Bauchi to Borno.
"Then Lagos to Kano will include Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Ilorin, Kano, Funtua, Zaria and to Kaura Namuda. We are rehabilitating all of them.
"It is essentially to encourage freight movement. We have over 30 million worth of freight on the Lagos Kano route for which presently we are moving slightly above 100 tones. While the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri is currently moving nothing but we are anticipating 11 million tones that can be moved from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
The rehabilitation will encourage movement of cargos and passengers.
"GE will do everything required to rehabilitate, investment and other railway infrastructure."
Amaechi said that GE had proposed to manage to manage the rail lines for twenty five years to recover in order to recover its investments but said that Nigerian government had not agreed.
"That is what our advisers will sit with GE to agree," he declared.
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