The Enugu State government says it is no longer business as usual with mining activities in the state, disclosing that it has reached a settlement agreement with Milhouse Energy Services Limited, a coal mining firm at Awhum in Udi Local Government Area of the state.
According to the state government, the firm is to pay N1billion into the Enugu State Environmental Remediation Trust Fund. It will also pay N100,000 tax on every truckload of coal evacuated from a mining site at Awhum.
The state government assures that the fund will be transparently managed by an independent committee of professionals specifically for the remediation and healing of the affected environment.
The Awhum coal mining site was one of those sealed by the Enugu State Committee on Review of Mining Activities headed by the Commissioner for Environment and Climate Change, Sam Ugwu, a Professor, following a crackdown by the state government on illegal mining sites in the state, including those without environmental impact certification and remediation plans.
In addition, an Enugu State High Court also granted an interim injunction restraining Milhouse Energy Services and African Pits & Quarries Limited, their agents, servants, privies, workers, among others, from carrying on further activities, environmental degradation, damaging and interfering in whatsoever manner with the large expanse of land situate at Ibite Awhum.
However, following discussions and agreement with the state government, Milhouse Energy may return to site in earnest after paying the sum of N1 billion for environmental remediation and N100,000 tax per truckload of coal evacuated from the site.
The state government noted in a state at the weekend that the company had mined and evacuated coal from the site since February 2022 without any payments or recourse whatsoever to the state government.
Sealing the site in September, Ugwu said: “while the state is not contesting the fact that solid minerals are on the Exclusive Legislative List, we will not accept indiscriminate mining activities and degradation of our environment. We will not accept that people will enter our state and start carting away our resources without recourse to the state government.
So, we want to see the veracity of the license, which they claim they have from the federal government, and we have given them a letter inviting them to a meeting.
We also want to find out how they have been remitting environmental fees to the Enugu State Ministry of Environment because we will not fold our hands and watch our environment destroyed and lives endangered.”
Meanwhile, the Governor Peter Mbah administration has continued the crackdown on illegal and indiscriminate mining activities with enforcement tour and sealing of a number of other sites.