The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bwari has challenged the Committee on State Mineral Resources and Environmental Management (MIREMCO) to proffer concrete solutions to environmental issues in mining as government is concerned about the environmental safety of citizens living in mining communities. He said government aims to put an end to health hazards associated with the degradation of their environment due to mining activities.
Enquiries made by The TRUTH shows that the environmental impact of mining includes erosion, formation of sinkholes, loss of bio diversity, and contamination of soil, groundwater, and surface water by chemicals from mining processes. Apart from creating environmental damage, the contamination resulting from leakage of chemicals also affects health of the local population.
The Minister who gave the charge to MIREMCO in his address at the Retreat on Mining Governance for Chairmen of Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO), organised by the Ministry in Abuja, assured that government is optimistic that issues raised on Environmental Management in Mining at the recent concluded conference on Nigerian Mining Week will be further examined.
He said the event will sensitise stakeholders in the areas of legal and regulatory frameworks that are essential for proper functioning in the sector and for the realisation of the mandate of the committee.
The Minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Barrister Georgina Ekeoma Ehuriah noted that the federal government is committed to the smooth operations of the committee. He said among efforts made by government to address environmental issues in mining is the provision of five million naira mobilization fund to each of the twenty-six states with reactivated and operational MIREMCO, and issuing Hilux Pick-Up Vehicles to the first ten of the 26 States that reactivated their Committees.
The minister said government also distributed operational guidelines to all the active MIREMCO States as a follow-up to proper harmonisation of the activities of MIREMCO in all the States of the Federation and FCT.
He commended them for their immense contributions in resolving conflicts between the Mineral Title Holders and their host communities, as well as compensation and effective implementation of community Development agreement (CDAs), which has impacted mineral production and revenue generation. He, therefore, urged them to sustain development in the sector by reviewing and reassessing some of the practices and regulations guiding Mining; and initiating reforms in line with the Roadmap for the sector.
The Permanent Secretary in her welcome address expressed joy that the State Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee has spread across thirty States of the Federation and FCT with great level of commitment in its activities.
She, among other things, said the retreat is designed to create an effective forum through which the Chairmen of MIREMCO can interact and be inducted on the mandate of the Ministry to enable them contribute their quota to the overall goals of sustainable diversification agenda of the present administration; and to enlighten the Chairmen on Mining Governance. It is also expected to bring about effective and inclusive participation of States and Local Governments in the promotion of mineral resources development with an increase in revenue generation and job creation.
The Chairman of MIREMCO, Edo State, Mr Daniel Inne, on behalf of representatives of MIREMCO, assured that members will live up to expectation in the discharge of their duties and promoting the ministry.
In his closing remarks, the Director, Mines Environmental Compliance Department, Engineer Salim Salaam, FIMC, said the retreat is the first being organized to sensitize the stakeholders on the sector’s re-positioning roadmap. He wished the participants successful deliberations and also expressed gratitude to the management of the ministry for their contributions in making the event a success.
The event featured interactive sessions and paper presentation by Director General Mining Cadastre Office, Engr. Mohammed Amate who discussed improvements scored in the area of Mineral Title Administration and Consents in Mining by the Office.
Engr. Sallim Salaam discussed the implementation of best practices in environmental management in the Nigerian Mining Sector while the Director, Mines Inspectorate Department, Mr. Wuyep presented a paper on the role of MIREMCO in tackling security challenges in Mining.