15 October 2013, Abuja – THE Federal Government said its intervention in the Zamfara State lead poisoning incident has yielded remarkable achievements since 2010, when it carried out the cleaning of the affected areas.
This was disclosed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Linus Awute, said the intervention made by the government in the areas of environmental remediation and sensitisation on safer mining practice, and treatment of the affected victims have brought relief to the affected communities by lead poisoning.
Awute said: “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. Accordingly, we have lined up some ambitious programmes for the 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.
“The Ministry has plans in its future budgets to extend the safer mining programme to other states of the federation beyond Zamfara State to build mineral processing centres among other things.
“All these are the painstaking efforts of Government towards ensuring that avoidable environmental and health disasters are prevented in Nigeria’s mining industry.”
Awute stated that the Ministry had intensified efforts to consolidate on the achievement by procuring safety kits and wears for safer mining. These are distributed to 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.
He also stated that wet milling and igoli machines for safer mining programme ordered from South Africa, would arrive the country soon, and will provide a safer alternative equipment for processing of gold ores, and will be installed in three mineral processing centres in Bagega, Kwali and Maru .
Awute commended efforts of the Ministry’s partners, Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) and TerraGraphics International Foundation in tackling Zamfara lead poisoning.
Speaking during the visit to the ministry of the Director of Field Operations, TerraGraphics International Foundation, Mr Simba Tirima, said that the essence of their visit was to inform the ministry that the remediation exercise at Bagega in Anka Local Government Area of Zamfara State has been completed.
Tirima said it was important for the Ministry to further strategise and discuss alliances to prevent future occurrence of lead poisoning in Zamfara or any other state in the country.
*Gabriel Ewepu, Vanguard