13 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