Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The federal government has advised mining operators to be responsible to their host communities, saying henceforth, no operator should be allowed to operate without a Community Development Agreement (CDA).
This agreement, the government noted, is very critical to the mining sector.
This was disclosed in Abuja, by the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO), during a sensitisation meeting between miners and host communities in Bwari Area Council, to discuss issues as it relates to mining activities in the Area Council.
The FCT Mines Environmental Compliant officer and a member of the Committee from the Ministry of Mines and Steel, Engr. Osseini Enoch Ukwenya, hinted that, “The committee is also to ensure adherence to the agreement signed by the operators.”
According to him, “There is bound to be disagreement between the operators and the host communities, which I believed is subject to negotiation as mining affects every community including displacement.
“And, displacement, should bring about compensation to the owner of the land as the land may not be useful to the owner for a long time even after mining activities.”
Ekwenya, said the reoccurring issue between the operators and the host communities had been that of pollution as well as the inability of the operators to keep the agreement entered into with the communities.
“The committee has to advise on matter of pollution, how does it affect the community and what is the operator doing to minimise the pollution. It is the duty of the operators to ensure that the pollution in their areas of operation are brought to minimal level.
“Mining operators has to be responsible to the community where they are operating, and the committee is putting all hands on deck to ensure that no operator operates in any community without a CDA, which is very critical to the ministry. The committee is also to ensure adherence to the agreement signed by the operators.”
He agreed that there are issues that need to be addressed in the Mineral and Mining Act, which he said are part of what the Committee needs to resolve, based on complaints received from host communities and the operators.
“We will be able to marry them together for proper legislation, what we call an annexure to the present existing mineral acts to help streamline the process and for a proper activity of mining and the benefits of the communities”
He, however, appealed to any aggrieved party to channel their grievances through the appropriate authorities, “especially through the Committee, in order to ensure that no one takes law into his hand as the Committee is set to address issues of grievances.”
Similarly, the Federal Mines Officer in charge of FCT and Secretary of the Committee, Engr. Ayelabola Olubunmi, noted that part of the reasons for the meeting was to re-awaken the operators of their social responsibilities to the host communities based on community development.
He also stressed the need to strengthen the grey areas in the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007, which he said would help, in making more inputs into the sector through legislation.
He appealed for continuous cooperation of Etsu of Bwari and other District Heads present at the meeting to ensure a peaceful co-existence and harmonious relationship between host communities and operators, while encouraging the operators to do more community projects and engage them on social responsibility.
On his part, the Etsu of Bwari, HRH Ibrahim Yaro (JP), commended the Ministry for constituting the Committee which he believed would bring about peace and sustainability between the operators and the host communities.