Enugu Govt moves to regulate illegal mining activities, increase revenue

Enugu State Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO) a body set up to curb the menace of illegal mining and monitor mining companies’ compliance with environmental standards, in Enugu, Thursday held it’s inaugural meeting , expressing readiness to regulate mining operations, ensure environmental safety and enhance the development.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Solid Minerals and Mining,(MIREMCO) and chairman of the committee,Samuel Okoro, at the meeting held at the State Secretariat, ,Enugu, presented a “4-Point Agenda for Sustainable Development in Enugu State Mineral Sector”

He said it was anchored on productivity, revenue generation, environmental management and safety.

The Special Adviser lamented that over 90% of the titles from all mineral classes were either inactive or dormant, saying , the inactivity significantly hampers the productivity and economic potential of the state.

This calls for a definitive course of action to address the situation and harness our state’s mineral wealth effectively, to realize the financial objectives, set forth by the government through sustainable development,” Engr. Okoro said.

Pix: The Committee

On boosting revenue from the mineral sector, he said the non-payment of royalties to the government was another issue that required much attention as every miner would be required to accurately declare the volume and value of their mined resources, warning that where underpayment of royalties was discovered, the state would enforce severe consequences to deter such practices.

Engr. Okoro lamented that the negative impacts of unregulated mining on the environment, such as degradation of ecosystems, pollution of water sources, and other detrimental effects on the environment and surrounding communities, citing the dangers of irresponsible mining operations on the environment in the Niger Delta where oil spillage and gas flaring in the region have caused extensive environmental damages.

“The issue of environmental protection and preservation is very important to us. Our measures will include robust water and air management approaches. Firstly, every mining company in the State must have a certified environmental expert on their team. They must present EPRP, and EIA, implement adequate Environmental Management Systems in place, and continually provide us with the assessment report of their operation”, he stated.

“It is a very sad reality that safety is one important aspect of mining operations that is expressly given lip service and easily overlooked. It is a reoccurring incident across the African mining industry. If you take note of mining operations in Nigeria, you will find what seems like a systemic safety incident, due to a lack of interest in the implementation of safety measures. Most mining pits lack standard design and the mining engineers usually prioritize production over safety.

“In our case, we are taking steps to ensure that it is not our story before we take action, that is why we are going to take the issues of safety very seriously. We will prohibit all forms of unsafe mining practices in Enugu State. Every mining entity in the Enugu State must have a certified health and safety officer who shall be required to provide this Committee with safety reports of the mining activities.”

He advised all the title holders to be part of a meeting scheduled for 12th July, 2024, saying it was aimed at ascertaining the challenges they had been facing, resulting in their inability to go into full mining operations. He disclosed that less than 10 percent of title holders were currently in operation.

It could be recalled that the Federal Government and Enugu State government in May agreed to set up the state’s Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO) to curb the menace of illegal mining and monitor mining companies’ compliance with environmental standards.

The Committee has the approval of the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake.

Author: Maureen Ikpeama

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