The Federal Executive Council has approved the release of thirty billion naira in intervention funds for the mining sector.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who announced this to journalists, said the decision was to fast track growth and development of the sector.
The decision was reached at the weekly meeting of the federal cabinet, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Briefing newsmen after Wednesday’s meeting of the Council, the Minister said the Council’s approval was to affirm the administrative approval given last year as well as to buttress President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to economic diversification.
He said the ministry will now focus on exploration, in order to attract investment in the mining sector.
“In recognition of the President’s campaign promises to Nigeria and also his consistent statements about diversification to particularly the agriculture and mining sectors, Council today ratified the approval of a N30 billion intervention fund for the mining sector,” he said.
He explained that the N30 billion intervention funds were the equivalent of those released to the agriculture and education sectors and would be used to support small scale miners, enhance research, and improve mining surveillance across the country.
Dr Fayemi said the Mines ministry would collaborate with Transportation, Works and Power ministries amongst others, to attain a multi sectoral focus.
“You can’t do mining without the transport infrastructure; so we have been requested to work with the ministry of transportation, ministry of power, works and housing, that of environment on safe mining as well as the ministry of health to ensure that whatever we do eventually can help us build a multi sectoral focus on mining and also private investment in the sector,” the Minister explained.
Also, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi announced that the Council approved two transaction advisers for an earlier decision to concession 3,500 kilometres narrow gauge railway lines to General Electric Company, popularly called GE.
“For us in the transport sector, negotiations have been on to concession the old 3,500 kilometres of railway to GE. So what we just did today is to approve the transaction advisers, who will then sit with GE as our own experts to do the transaction,” he said.
Mr Amaechi said the decision would help boost activities in the Agriculture and Mines sectors, as well as encourage freight and passenger movement across the country.
He however, stated clearly that GE had proposed a period of 25 years for the rehabilitation of the rail tracks involved but an agreement has not been reached yet on how long it will take.