The Federal Government, through the Solid Minerals Development, has said it will support the private sector with low-risk, single-digit loans for greenfield exploration in the country.

Greenfield exploration refers to uncharted territory where mineral deposits are not already known to exist.

The Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Fund, Fatima Shinkafi, disclosed while hosting the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Mary Ogbe, on a working visit to the SMDF in Abuja on Tuesday.

She said, “We are looking at generating project greenfield for the first time ever at low-risk, single-digit interest rates for the private sector. We are actually interested in promoting private-sector-led investments.

“Mining is a business enterprise, and from what we have seen, the private sector runs that much better than the government.”

The SMDF executive secretary added that there were gaps in the mining sector that needed to be filled to attract local and foreign investors.

She said, “Very close to my heart, and the Fund’s mandate is greenfield exploration. We have gaps in data, and to attract investments, we need to know more about what we have and generate data.

“It costs money, and it is very risky, and banks are risk-averse. Banks don’t have the risk appetite to do it because it is a gamble. Exploration is a risk; you may have something or nothing.

“We want to be that bridge at the emerging stages that mining is at in the country; we want to derisk the sector and be that bridge between investments and data so that we can attract both local and foreign investments.”

She also said that a recent agreement signed with the Africa Finance Corporation would help the Fund in fulfilling its mandate.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Mary Ogbe, stressed the need for more collaboration to strengthen the mining sector.

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