Olamilekan Adegbite, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development. said this on Tuesday in Abuja.
Adegbite spoke when he appeared on the News Agency of Nigeria flagship Forum.
Adegbite said the over N3.2 billion mining intervention fund, which was domiciled with the Bank of Industry, was an intervention by the Federal Government to boost mining activities in Nigeria.
He said the initial fund was N2.5 billion, but it had accrued interest in the bank and N200 million out of the interest was disbursed as loan to small scale and artisanal miners.
He said: “When it was set up, it was that from a minimum of N10 million to N100 million maximum people can access at five per cent interest rates, and we have had some success story.
“What we now realised was that there were a lot of small others, artisanal miners, small scale miners, who do not even need up to N10 million, which was the minimum.
“So, they were excluded because you say minimum N10 million, maximum N100 million and you know the way banking is, if you want to take N10 million from a bank, the collateral is times two minimum.
“But there are some artisanal miners there that all they want to enhance their activity is to buy a water pump, so that they have water to wash their oars, so they can bring out what they need a bump of N500,000, that is all they need someone to buy for them.
“We excluded them by saying that the minimum you can borrow is N10 million, so we set up another scheme, under that.”
According to Adegbite, some miners could not access the fund because of the stringent conditions that the bank put in, but with the N200 million sub-fund, it could give a maximum of N2 million to individuals and minimum of N200,000.
He, however, said the only condition attached was to get a guarantor on Grade Level 14 in the Federal Civil Service or its equivalent in the services.
He said: “This is to allow all those lower end people to benefit from this new scheme that I designed when I realised what was going on and it is catching on.
“A lot of these lower people who need small money are already approaching the bank for that.
“There was a programme in the past that was not very successful, so that is why this time around we gave the money to the bank.
“It is not your share of the national cake, it is something to help you, it is the cheapest fund in Nigeria today at five per cent.
“So, if it works out, yes we can expand that and maybe make more money available up to half a billion, but we need to be careful.
“The average Nigerian thinks that this is my share of the national cake, so when they go to borrow such funds they do not want to pay back.”