Enugu State Govt Starts Sealing of Illegal Mining Sites
The Enugu State Government on Monday made a significant step towards limiting the activities of miners in the state with the sealing of unlawful mining sites and those lacking environmental impact certifications and mitigation plans.
Note that the Governor Peter Mbah administration prohibited illegal mining in the state in June and that the Enugu State Committee on Mining Activities was established last week to neutralise the threat.
The Committee, which was led by its Chairman and Commissioner for Environment and Climate Change, Prof. Sam Ugwu, stormed a mining site in Awhum, Udi Local Government Area, owned by Milhouse Energy Services Ltd.
Speaking to reporters following an on-site inspection of mining operations at the location where various violations, including environmental degradation, blasting without approval and in accordance with regulations, non-remittance of staff tax to the state government despite deductions from staff, and non-remittance of pension contributions to the pension scheme despite deductions from staff, among others, were suspected, Prof. Ugwu said the government would not collapse.
“Our mission is basically to seal, on behalf of the state government, mining activities that do not have any recourse to the state government. We are also here to look at what is going on and you have all seen a lot of environmental degradation going on.
“We equally want to see the veracity of the license, which they claim they have and to find out how they have been remitting their environmental fees to Enugu State Government.
“Importantly, want to find out the mitigating plans they have in place. We are very much interested in what happens to these host communities and their environs many years after these miners have closed shop because if you take a look at the Niger Delta, the people are still suffering greatly from environmental degradation caused by oil exploration activities of many decades ago.
“Enugu powered the industries of Europe and beyond at some point through this same coal. Today, our environment is still bearing the scars and brunt of those mining activities. So, we will not fold our hands and watch that happen all over again”.
His statement that “from all indications, this site has been in operation for more than five years” refuted the mine operators’ assertion that they began mining operations at the location in 2022.
He assured that the “government is coming after all of them” and stated that the government was highly aware of additional mining sites operating illegally, without a licence, or in violation of environmental protection laws and regulations in various sections of the state.
The Committee also served a notice on African Pits and Quarries Ltd. to stop operations immediately and report to Government House on Thursday.
“Sequel to the directive of the Governor of Enugu State banning illegal mining activities in the state, you are hereby warned to desist and stop all mining activities in this environment.
“Your failure to comply strictly as directed above may lead to your arrest and prosecution in the state Environmental Protection Court.
“You are therefore required, as a matter of urgency, to furnish this office with comprehensive list of the following: Approval license from the Nigeria mining cadastral office, evidence of notification letter to Enugu State Ministry of Environment before commencement of operations, evidence of payment for ecological control permit from the Ministry, evidence of payment of environmental remedial fee, approval license from both the Federal of Mines and Federal Ministry of Environment for Environmental Impact Assessment certification, evidence of acknowledgement/consent letter from Enugu State Ministry of Environment, and evidence of environmental remediation plans to address in a systemic manner all issues that may arise from any prospective mining activities or ongoing in the state”.
Meanwhile, the General Manager in charge of operations at the Awhum site, Akintola Oluwafemi, while assuring that the company would comply with government directives, said the firm obtained all necessary licences from the Federal Government and was also mindful of the environment in its operations.
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