The federal government has reached an agreement with a French company, SOFRECO, to develop a programme for the formalisation of artisanal miners into cooperatives and small-scale mining outfits.
The plan is to enable artisanal miners who constitute about 80percent of Nigeria’s mining population, become better organised and grow into larger mining companies and thriving financial enterprises.
The agreement will also enable the design and implementation of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Remote Sensing Monitoring System in the sector.
Project coordinator of the Mineral Sector Support For Economic Diversification Project (MinDiver), Mr Linus Adie, said in a statement that the federal government had obtained a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) to fund the MinDiver project.
The project, which is expected to commence in September this year, will among other scopes review and evaluate the ASM Department records of the over 600 formalised ASM cooperatives currently across Nigeria.
It will also conduct a comprehensive mapping of ASM sites and trading centres through the establishment of remote sensing monitoring system. This will involve the development and installation of a remote sensing system for processing satellite imagery and GIS information on ASM sites, as a supplementary tool for monitoring and inspection purposes.
Arie said the move is to improve the attractiveness of the Nigerian mining sector, making it a driver of the economic diversification for long-term private sector investment in the exploration and production of minerals.
According to him, the agreement is primarily targeted at opening up economic opportunities for artisans through the formalisation which will in turn impact the reduction of smuggling practices and ensure ASMs have direct access to mineral and financial markets.