29 April 2013, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal Government has threatened to shut down or revoke quarrying operations in and around the Federal Capital Territory towards ensuring that mining and quarry sites operate within the constituted laws guiding the nation’s minerals and metals sector.
Two of the affected quarries include Hongyum Quarry Limited and Perfect Stone quarry Limited.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Musa Mohammed Sada gave the warning and also threatened the shutting down of operations in non compliant quarries both within the FCT and the nation at large, during his working visit to some selected quarry sites in the Mpape area of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja recently.
The quarry sites visited by the Minister and his team included Perfect Stone Limited, Hongyum Limited, Arab contractors Limited, Setraco (Nig) Limited, Julius Berger Limited and Leen Ford Quarries Limited which are all situated at Mpape area of the Federal Capital Territory.
The Minister explained that the essence of the visit was for him to get first hand information on mining operators at the mines sites as well as to assess the level of compliance of mining operators with the stipulated laws and rules guiding mining operations in the country.
He noted that the present administration had done a lot in putting in place relevant legal and institutional frameworks towards the growth of the minerals and metals sector, stressing government’s determination to ensure the implementation of the frameworks.
At the Minister’s first port of call which was Perfect Stone Limited, Arc. Sada was extremely disappointed at the poor level of compliance with the rules guiding mining operations at the company.
He decried a situation where only one Nigerian personnel was responsible for the managing of both quarry face and the explosives magazine which was not in tandem with the extant rules guiding quarry operations in the country.
The Minister explained that in accordance with the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007, all professional jobs in any quarry site most be manned by Nigerians who are registered members of the Nigerian Council for Mining Engineers and Geoscientists (COMEG).
In his words, the Minister said, “The issue of explosives in premises is not good enough. The Nigerian Professionals is managing the quarry face, managing the explosives; probably he is the only Nigerian working in the quarry. This is not acceptable.”
The Minister reiterated the administration’s commitment to create jobs for the teeming youth through the growth of the country’s minerals and metals sector; he insisted that, “We are going to make sure that jobs that belong to Nigerians are not allowed to be taken over by expatriates.
“We insist that Nigerian professionals must do the professional jobs in any quarry site. The Nigeria’s law says you do not come and take the employment opportunities of the country.”
Arc. Sada added that the Ministry was already in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior so as to address the issue of expatriate quota in accordance with the mining laws of the country.
Also at Hongyum Limited, The Minister expressed worry over the environmental situation at the quarry site.
He further directed the Nigerian Council of Mining Engineers and Geoscientists (COMEG) to investigate the Professional skills of the work force in the company.
While expressing his displeasure over the poor level of compliance of some quarry operators to the laws guiding the mining operations in Nigeria, the Minister ordered an immediate suspension of their mining operations until these quarry operators correct those anomalies within a stipulated time frame within if they fail, the suspension would lead to revocation of their mining lease in line with the provisions of the law.
According to the Minister, “Those operators that we have seen and not respecting the laws of the sector, their operations will be immediately suspended and we will write to notify them in line with the provisions of the law, we will give them a time frame to make good all issues we had raised and if they do not, the mining lease would move from suspension to revocation.”
The Minister commended those quarry operators who operate in line with the stipulated rules guiding mining operations in the country.
He said that Federal Government was interested in quarry operators within the Federal Capital Territory as a result of the standing committee between the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and the Federal Capital Territory Administration.
He explained that, those quarry operators that are moving close to residential areas as a result of their quarry activities would be issued a notice to find an alternative or be advised to increase the value chain of their operations, for instance, production of concrete slabs from the already blasted stones which would definitely reduce the hazard associated with quarry operations.
The Minister assured that the working visit to mine sites would be a continuous exercise and would cover all the states of the federation in order to ensure a double check on mining operations in the country.
The Chairman of Leenford Quarries Limited, Senator Effiong Bob thanked the Minister for the visit. He said one of the challenges being faced by quarry operators in the country was the invasion of the mining operations by foreigners who are not ready to comply with the rules and regulations guiding the minerals and metals sector of the Nigerian economy.