On Monday, the government of the Nigerian state of Enugu took a significant step toward curbing mining activity in the state by closing unlawful mining sites and those lacking environmental impact certifications and mitigation plans.
To refresh your memory, illicit mining in the State was outlawed by Governor Peter Mbah’s government back in June.
Enugu State Committee on Mining Activities was also established last week to halt the threat.
Prof. Sam Ugwu, the Committee’s chairman and the Commissioner for Environment and Climate Change, led an attack on a mining site operated by Milhouse Energy Services Ltd. in Awhum, Udi Local Government Area.
Ugwu spoke to reporters after conducting an on-site inspection of mining operations, during which he discovered numerous violations, including environmental degradation, blasting without approval and due regulations, failure to remit staff tax to the State government despite deducting same from the staff, and failure to remit pension contributions to the pension scheme despite deducting same from the staff.
Our job is to put a stop to mining operations that can’t be challenged by the state government, and we do it in their name. We came to take a look around as well, and I’m sure you’ve noticed a lot of environmental damage.
We are also interested in how they have been paying their environmental fees to the Enugu State Government and the legitimacy of the license they claim to possess.
We need to know what preventative measures they’ve taken. Since the people of the Niger Delta are still suffering greatly from environmental degradation brought on by oil exploration activities many decades ago, we are very interested in what happens to these host communities and their environs long after the miners have closed shop.
At one time, Enugu’s coal supplied energy to factories across Europe and beyond. The effects of mining on our ecosystem are still being felt today. Therefore, we will not sit by idly while it happens again,” he declared.
His statement that “from all indications, this site has been in operation for more than five years” was a rebuttal to the mine owners’ claim that they began mining activities at the site in 2022.
His statement that “government is coming after all of them” was an assurance that the State government was aware of other mining sites around the state that were operating unlawfully and without a license or in violation of environmental protection laws and regulations.
The Committee further requested that African Pits and Quarries Ltd. immediately cease all operations and report before the Government House on Thursday.
You are therefore advised to desist and cease any mining activities in this environment, in accordance with the direction of the Governor of Enugu State prohibiting illicit mining activities in the State.
If you don’t do as you’ve been told, the State Environmental Protection Court can come after you.
The Nigerian mining cadastral office’s approval license, the Enugu State Ministry of Environment’s pre-operations notification letter, proof of payment for the Ministry’s ecological control permit, proof of payment for the Ministry’s environmental remediation fee, and the Federal Ministry of Mines’ and the Federal Ministry of Environment’s approval licenses are all things that need to be provided to this office immediately.
Akintola Oluwafemi, the General Manager in charge of operations at the Awhum site, said the company had obtained all necessary licenses from the Federal Government and was also environmentally conscious in its operations while assuring the public that it would follow all government directives.
Kingsley Nnaji, the Governor’s Special Adviser on Energy and Mineral Resources; Frank Anioma, the Governor’s Special Adviser on Political Matters; and Uche Anichukwu, the Governor’s Senior Special Assistant on External Relations, were also Committee members representing the administration.
Meanwhile, the Governor’s orders are being carried out with additional inspections to other locations.