The Federal Government has restructured its Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF) to accommodate more operators and deepen participation in the sector.
An aide to the Minister of Solid Minerals, Mr Yinka Oyebode, said the government rigged access to the fund to enable more operators would benefit from it.
He said the sector is developing, noting that there are many areas that awaiting exploration.
In an interview with The Nation, he said the sector will be one of the major revenue earners for the government should the operators and investors show more attention in it.
He said there are many old and green fields awaiting exploration, urging the operators to firm up the relationship between the Nigerian Mining Geoscience Society (NMGS) sector to deepen activities in the sector.
He urged stakeholders to pull resources for exploration, adding that the inability of the operators to have a strong forum is affecting geological activities.
Oyebode said: “If operators can form a strong and virile body to examine and deliberate on the past, present and future potentials in the nation’s solid minerals sector, they would not find it difficult in assembling funds needed for exploration activities. Besides, they would be able to improve on the export of solid minerals.”
He said the government is not leaving any stone unturned to harness the potentials in the industry and further make it contribute substantially to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to him, the country depends on crude oil to the detriment of solid minerals and other natural resources.
Oyebode, the Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said the sector boasts of over 40 resources, stressing that many are yet to be discovered.
He said the resources were spread across the six- geopolitical zones, Southwest, Southeast, Southsouth, Northeast and others. He said many areas have geological prospectivities, urging Nigerians to conduct research in those areas and explore them for growth.
On World Bank grant, Oyebode said the $150 million will be given to qualified operators by the government. He said operators must show a proven track record of activities, operate in line with the best corporate practices, among meeting other requirements.
He said the development became necessary to meet the World Bank requirements for the disbursement of funds, stressing that the World Bank would like to know how the money would be spent before it is given it out.