Groups, govt strategise to prevent lead poisoning

Lead poisoning in Nigeria13 August 2013, Abuja – Two groups, Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders), and TerraGraphics  International  Foundation,  have been to  the  Ministry  of  Mines  and  Steel  Development  to  discuss  strategies  and  further  alliances  to  prevent  future  lead  poisoning  in  Zamfara  State and any  other  state  of  the  country.

Michelle  Chouinard and  Simba  Tirima, the  Country  Head, and the  Director  of  Field  Operations of the two groups respectively, who met with the Permanent  Secretary,  Mr. Linus  Awute, said government’s  intervention  in the Zamfara  lead  poisoning of 2010 had attained  remarkable achievements particularly in the areas of environmental remediation, sensitisation on  safer mining practice and treatment of the affected victims.

Tirima said he and Michelle Chouinard were impressed by what the ministry was doing regarding the Safer Mining Programme and reiterated their desire for continuous collaboration with the ministry and other stakeholders involved in the various intervention programmes.

Tirima said their visit was to inform the ministry of the completion of the remediation exercise at Bagega in Anka Local Government Area of Zamfara State.

TerraGraphics International Foundation  is  a  USA -based  company that partnered the Federal  Ministry of  Environment  to  handle  the  remediation programme at Bagega as a result of the  lead poisoning incident while Medecins Sans  Frontieres is  involved in the treatment of the  victims of the lead poisoning.

Awute commended the team for their various roles in stopping the death incidents occasioned by the lead poisoning.  “We  are  scaling  up  our  programme  of  sensitisation on safer mining to  prevent  future  occurrence  of  lead  poisoning in Zamfara State and in other states of the  country,” he said.

“Accordingly, we have lined up some ambitious programmes for effective implementation of our work plan on a sustainable basis. The ministry’s  2013  budget has  a  funding  window  for  use  in  widening  the  scope  of  our  mining  extension  services  and  inspectorate  activities  which  are  on-going.”

Awute  also disclosed  that  the ministry had  procured  safety kits  and  wears  for  safer  mining  for  distribution to the artisanal and small scale miners at the critical  flash-points in Zamfara  State where field demonstrations on best mining practices were being carried out by field officers  of the ministry.

“The  wet  milling  and  igloo  machines  for  the  safer  mining  programme  ordered  from  South  Africa would arrive the country soonest,” he said. “On  arrival, the  safer  alternative  equipment  for  processing  of  gold ores would  be installed at three mineral  processing  centers  in Bagega,  Kwali and Maru.”

Awute added that the outpost at Bagega had already been completed with a mineral buying centre while work was in progress for the completion of the other two outposts.
According to Awute, the ministry had plans to extend the safer mining programme to other states of the federation beyond Zamfara State to build mineral processing centres, among other things.

– Patrick Ugeh, This Day

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