Global Rights advocates ethical mining, says ‘regulatory bodies must fulfill their mandates or…’


Tsema Ede

A renowned natural resources governance expert, Tsema Ede says the inability of successive governments to institute ethical mining in Nigeria is a reflection of the huge deficit in mandate fulfillment of regulatory authorities.

She pointed out that the essence of regulatory bodies is to enforce compliance in order to ensure that mining operators adhere to standards.

Ede, who expressed the concern in Abuja, at a recent two-day training of mining sector journalists, organized by Global Rights – a nongovernmental organization, said it is unfortunate that worrisome mandate shortfall persists despite various legal and institutional frameworks supposedly put in place to ensure ethical mining in the country.

The expert warned that if institutional watchdogs of the mining sector fail to fulfill their mandates, the sector may not be able to deliver the promises of economic development it holds for the country, stating that the country is blessed with enormous solid mineral resources.

“The mining sector has been described as a critical component of Nigeria’s economy as it is said to be providing essential resources, employment opportunities and revolution streams that support economic growth, diversification and sustainable development,” she said.

Ede, while delivering her lecture, said promoting ethical mining practice is not only a moral imperative but also strategically important to maximizing the sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product and advancement of the country.

She discussed ethical mining as mining practice that prioritizes environmental protection, social responsibility and economic viability.

Ede further noted that ethical mining aims to remove negative impact of mining activities on the environment, local communities and workers while maximizing the benefits of stakeholders involved.

While speaking on the significance of the mining sector to Nigeria’s economy, Ede said it contributed to the Gross Domestic Products and revenue generation.

She stated’: “It also provides diversification opportunities; provides employment opportunities for a significant portion of the population both directly and indirectly,” adding that through diversification, the mining sector strengthens Nigeria’s resilience to global oil prices fluctuations and economic slide as well as enhancing industrial and rural development.

While speaking on the key principles of ethical mining, Ede said it minimizes economic degradation and promotes eco system conservation.

“It minimizes the footprint of the miner’s operations and ensures the responsible use of natural resources.

“It provides social responsibility in term of respect for rights, interests and wellbeing of host communities and other local communities affected by mining operations.

“It also enhances engagement with host communities in a transparent and participatory manner, respects local cultural heritage and traditional land rights.

“It addresses host community concerns regarding environmental impact, livelihood and social development,” she added..

She said in terms of health and safety, ethical mining means prioritizing the health and safety of workers and communities.

“It ensures compliance with occupational and safety standards, and provides a safe mining environment free from hazards and risks.

“Upholds fair labour practices and human rights standards; prohibits child labour and forced labour and promises diversity, equity and inclusion in the work place.

Ethical mining guarantees full disclosure of information about mining activities, environmental impacts and socio-economic contributions.

An ethical miner operates according to law, regulations and international standards governing many countries, environmental protection, human rights and corporate social responsibility.”

At the training, the expert highlighted steps that must be taken to ensure ethical mining.

This she puts thus: “Strengthening regulatory frameworks and enforcement mechanisms; enhancing transparency and accountability in revenue management; investing in research and development of sustainable mining technologies; promoting community engagement and empowerment thorough capacity building and respect for Community Development Agreements (CDAs).”

She called on agencies of government to note the following points when demanding accountability in the mining sector.

These, according to the renowned natural resources governance expert are: “The Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals Development; Federal Ministry of Environment; the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and the courts.

She listed legal remedies against violations of ethical mining to include enforcement of fundamental human rights; enforcement of contracts including CDAs; compelling government ministries to perform their duties and compelling companies to fulfill their duties as well as petitions and protests.

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