22 March 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal Government has announced sanctions against no fewer than 313 mining companies operating in the country over non-fulfilment of environmental obligations.
The Director, Mines Environmental Compliance Department, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Salim Salaam, who disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja, said that the mining operators were issued sanction letters on March 20 for failing to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation Programme (EPRP) and the Community Development Agreement (CDA).
He said that four of the mining companies affected were given ‘stop work’ order, adding that the ministry had warned them severally but they refused to comply with the environmental obligations.
He said that five companies’ licenses were out rightly revoked over total failure to comply with the ministry’s environmental obligations in spite of incessant notices issued by the ministry.
“One out of the five companies is a foreign mining company located in Bauchi, three in Cross River and One in Oyo state all their licenses have been revoked completely,” he said.
He noted, however, that 20 mining companies were issued warning letters as consideration to comply with the mining act to avoid revocation.
He said that the ministry had decided not to renew licences of the remaining 284 mining companies, except the Minister, Dr Kayode Fayemi gives them another chance to fulfil all environmental requirements.
He said that some of the defaulters did not conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before commencing operations, adding that this could be dangerous to the host communities’ health and cause environmental degradations.
EIA is a study being conducted by mining operators to ascertain in advance the impact of the project on the environment and on the lives of the host communities.
He also explained that some conducted EIA but refused to fulfil the CDA of the host communities and the EPRP.
“Mining operators are mandated to conduct EPRP, according to Section 119 of the Nigerian Mining Act.
“The CDA is also mandatory under Section 116 of the act for mining operators to sign an agreement with host communities on what to do to improve their livelihoods. The idea of conducting EIA is to proffer mitigation measures against mining impacts before commencing operation,” he said.
According to Salaam, the problems experienced in the Niger Delta region with oil and gas companies were as a result of CDA, as the communities were complaining that oil companies were conducting exploration and extraction but refused to meet their needs.
He said that the CDA was provided as a measure in the mining act for mining operators to fulfil their obligations socially and economically to their host communities to avoid problems.
Salam said that the ministry sanctioned no fewer than 20 mining companies over non compliance with its laws and regulations.