The Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN) has denied claims that two of its members have accessed the N5 billion loan meant for Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (ASM).
Mr Edward Danlandi, the First National Vice President of MAN, made the denial in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
Danladi said no member of the association had been able to access the loan.
“We heard the rumours during the Annual Geosciences meeting held recently in Kano where someone stood up and said that two miners have benefited from the N5 billion loans.
“The president of the association was at the meeting and he countered it, but the rumour is still going on.
“There is no way that we will not know that two of our members have accessed the loan because we have a database and miners that succeeded would alert us,’’ he said.
NAN recalls that in a bid to empower and strengthen the operations of small scale and artisanal mining operators across the country, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development came up with an intervention loan scheme.
The ministry and the Bank of Industry (BoI) contributed N2.5 billion each totaling N5 billion to be loaned to artisanal and small scale miners.
The ministry drew its N2.5 billion contribution from the solid minerals development fund.
Artisanal miners that are registered with cooperatives can access between N100, 000 to N10 million, while Small Scale Miners can access between N10 million to N100 million.
The BoI is saddled with the responsibility of disbursing the loans to miners that met the criteria for the repayment of the loan in 10 years and at five per cent interest rate.
Danlandi said the criteria for accessing the loan were too stringent, adding that it would be difficult for any miner to meet them.
According to him, one among the stringent criteria is that any miner that wants to borrow N100 million should provide collateral worth N150 million.
“Do we need to apply for such loan, if we have collateral or investment worth 150 million? It is better to sell off the collateral and use it for mining instead of borrowing.
“We have had several meetings with the committee in charge soliciting that certain conditions that were included in the criteria should be reviewed, but we are still waiting to hear from them,’’ he said.
NAN also recalls that Dr Abdulkadir Muazu, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry had in February said the committee saddled with the disbursement was on the verge of disbursing the loans.
Muazu said only the group of miners that meet the criteria would be given the loan.
According to him, the ministry is working assiduously with BoI to treat all applications received and a lot of them met the criteria for accessing the funds.