Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The federal government has called on illegal miners in different parts of the country to register and obtain licences for their operations or face the wrath of law.
Government, through Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO), gave the warning at a recent meeting with stakeholders from Kwali, Kuje and Gwagwalada Area Counci, in Abuja
The FCT Mines Environmental Compliant officer and a member of MIREMCO from the Ministry of Mines and Steel, Engr. Osseini Enoch, while making the call urged illegal miners to register and obtain licences for their operations or face the wrath of the law.
He also advised registered miners to ensure they sign Community Development Agreement (CDA) with their host communities.
According to him, “Registration of all illegal miners and signing of CDAs by registered miners must be done on or before January 31, 2019.”
He explained that, “Whoever that is operating illegally has a month to register, from now to January 31, get your license approved, if you have not apply, go and apply.
“If you do not apply by January 31, 2019, there will be no place for you to operate, please use this period to do the needful after which the law will take its course.”
He noted that pollution and illegal mining activities in Kwali, Kuje and Gwagwalada Area Council was enormous and beyond what government could ignore, adding that the purpose of the meeting was to sensitise the communities on the danger of harbouring illegal miners.
Osseini, said one of the basic functions of the MIREMCO was to consider issues affecting communities in terms of environment, pollution, among others.
He affirmed that environmental pollution was a dangerous key issue affecting mining communities.
“There is no mines title holder who is not supposed to do what is called an Environmental Impact Assessment (AIE), this is to tell us where you are going to mine, what are the adverse effect to the communities and what remediation have you put in place to see that the communities are not affected,” he emphasised.
He said part of the responsibilities of the committee was to ensure that no pollution was done without remediation, and also ensure that no operator or person operates without Community Development Agreement (CDA).
“You cannot excavate minerals without bringing back to the community, the law is there and that is why we are pleading that anybody, or company that does not have CDA by January 31, will stop mining, close and reclaim the area.”
He observed that Kuje Area Council has many mining title holders who have refused to put up a CDA with the host community.
He warned that registered miners who refused to sign CDAs by January 31, 2019, would have their licence revoked.
He expressed displeasure that some illegal miners were operating through the traditional rulers and politicians who were giving out mining sites.
“In some communities we visited, miners without title go to the heads of the communities and get permits, it is an illegal act and if you are a miner, you have to obtain a mining licence before you can operate in any community.”
He called on community leaders to desist from helping illegal miners as any pollution in the community could result to several deaths siting lead poisoning in Zamfara State that led to many deaths as an example.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the Gwagwalada Area Council, Adamu Mustapha Danze, who was represented by the Head of Department of Environment in the area council, Haruna Ahmed Labaran pledged the supports of the area council towards the efforts of the federal government at resolving the issue of environmental pollution brought about by the activities of the illegal miners.