BusinessDay

FG promises grants, incentives for Kogi artisanal miners

…as NGO calls for more support

The Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has promised to assist artisanal and small-scale miners in Kogi State with grants and incentives to enhance mining activities in the state.

Obasi Uwadiegwu, principal technical officer of the ministry, while speaking at a sensitization programme organised for solid mineral stakeholders by Miners Association of Nigeria Kogi State chapter, in Ejule, Ofu Local Government Area of the state, disclosed that the federal government through the ministry is desirous of investing vigorously to encourage youths to participate actively in mining activities to improve their income generation.

He said that the artisanal and small scale miners constitute 95 percent of mining activities in sub-Saharan Africa, saying government investment in the sector will generate employment for youth and as well take them away from all forms of criminal activities. He also charged artisanal miners in the state to form cooperatives to enable them to benefit from the federal government support and training and also cautioned them against the hazard in mining.

“I am urging youth in Kogi State to form cooperatives and start mining activities as an artisan so that you can grow into bigger miners. You should also adhere to government rules and regulations by registering with the ministry and also obey the host communities to avoid incessant conflicts,” he advised.

In his speech, Gabriel Onoja, chairman, Coal Buyers Association, Kogi East Senatorial District, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for formalizing the activities of artisanal miners in Nigeria with plans to use the ministry to train, empower and grant miners license to operate on the mining deposit sites in Kogi State.

According to him, the arrangement, if actualized, youths restiveness and other forms of social ills in the society will be addressed, saying the youth would now channel their time and energy to productive economic activities with income generating outcomes.

“With this, the youths will now smile to the bank, the government’s economic purse is swollen and the haulage operators are not also left out of economic gains.

“I am also appealing to the government to assist us with payloaders, trailers, tractors, excavators and other important mining machines to facilitate the mining of coal and its eventual transportation to the end users.

“Training of our members on modern mining techniques to keep them updated, approval and quick access to loans and grants to aid our operations, provision of paramedics for cases of emergency and other hazards on site as well as issuance of insurance cover for artisanal miners”, the chairman said.

In another development, Enemona Foundations, a non-governmental organisation whose mission is to eradicate poverty and all forms of crimes and criminality associated with the youth, has called on the federal government to assist small-scale and artisanal miners in finding decent sources of livelihoods that will take them off the streets.

Gabriel Enemona, president, Enemona Foundations, noted that it is only when concerted efforts by all stakeholders in Nigeria to ensure the youths find a meaningful source of living, that insecurity facing the society would be brought to a halt.

Enemona, who doubles as the zonal chairman of Solid Mineral Buyers and Transporters Association, disclosed this on Saturday at Ejule in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State, during the stakeholders sensitization for small scale and artisanal miners in Kogi East Senatorial District, adding that his joy knows no limit when he sees young people, widows and the vulnerable are given impetus to advance their potential.

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He said that the Enemona Foundation was established to give a lifeline to communities, young persons and women through its numerous life changing programmes being executed.

Enemona bemoaned the parlous economic into unwholesome behaviours, stressing that equipping them with wherewithal will drastically reduce realities facing the youth, which have drawn them e crime, adding that having studied the policy of the present government in solid mineral development, through small scale and artisanal mining, he has to seize the opportunity by organising the youths to participate in the sector that can bring enormous prosperity to them.

“After careful study of the government’s policy on mining, I commenced sensitisation of youths to take ownership of their economic lives through active participation in small-scale and artisanal mining of deposits that abound in the state”, he said.

He noted that the foundation discovered the enormous prosperity in mining and hit the ground running with aggressive campaigns across the state to move the vulnerable group to the sector to improve their well-being.

“And with this experiment, the youths are now gainfully employed in small-scale mining of coal, kaolin and clay deposits, which has enabled them to contribute to the development of the society.

“I am committed to this project with all my might and resources to see that every able-bodied youth in our communities is removed from the street and made to own his life for the good of our land.

“We need collective effort to draw our youths to small-scale and artisanal mining which is a huge investment that can provide millions of jobs for our youth, the best for the society as they will be able to go to bed with their eyes closed . The Government can then channel their energies and resources into other areas of critical needs rather than spending billions in fighting insecurity,” he assured.

He revealed that activities of his foundation has just embarked on the building of a-600 sitting capacity church for his communities and other life transforming ventures, saying he did not know that his efforts would get the attention of the state government, which have been supportive of the programme with kind and material resources.

He equally commended the Kogi State government for tireless support, while calling on the federal government to give grants and loans to his members to purchase pay loaders, tractors and other equipment that will safeguard lives of miners.

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