OSCARLINE ONWUEMENYI 16 August 2013, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Multi-lateral intervention in the Zamfara lead poisoning of year 2010 has attained remarkable achievements particularly in the areas of environmental remediation, sensitisation on safer mining practice and treatment of the affected victims, the international agency, Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders), has said.
Michelle Chouinard, Country Head of Medecins Sans Frontieres, and Simba Tirima, Director of Field Operations, TerraGraphics International Foundation, disclosed this during a visit to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in Abuja. They were at the ministry to inform the minister that the remediation exercise at Bagega in Anka Local Government Area of Zamfara State had been completed and to discuss strategies for further alliances to prevent future occurrence of the poisoning in Zamfara and in any other state of the country.
TerraGraphics International Foundation is a United States-based company that partnered with the Federal Ministry of Environment to handle the remediation programme at Bagega as a result of the lead poison incident while Medecins Sans Frontieres is involved in the treatment of the victims of the lead poison.
Tirima said he and Chouinard were impressed with what the Federal Government was doing on the safer mining programme and reiterated their desire for continuous collaboration with the ministry and other stakeholders involved in the various intervention programmes.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has announced plans to increase its budget to extend the safer mining programme to many states of the federation.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Linus Awute, who received the team commended them for their various roles in stopping the death incidents occasioned by the lead poison.
“We are scaling up our programme of sensitization on safer mining to prevent future occurrence of lead poisoning in Zamfara State and in other states of the country. 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,” he said.
Mr. Awute also disclosed that the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development 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 are being carried out by field officers of the Ministry.
He added that the wet milling and igoli machines for the safer mining programme ordered from South Africa would arrive the country soonest. On arrival, the safer alternative equipment for processing of gold ores would be installed at three mineral processing centres in Bagega, Kwali and Maru.
According to the Permanent Secretary, three outposts would be constructed at Bagega, Kwali and Maru in Zamfara State, adding that the outpost at Bagega had already been completed with a mineral buying centre and work was in progress for the completion of the other two outposts.