• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Lithium Mining: CSOs demand inclusion of host communities rights in the advocacy for a ‘Just Transition’

Lithium Mining: CSOs demand inclusion of host communities rights in the advocacy for a ‘Just Transition’

Civil Society Organisations, CSOs have decried the exclusion of host communities in the negotiations following the federal government commissioning of a Lithium Mining Plant in Nasarawa State

The CSOs on the platform of Community Development Advocacy Foundation, CODAF, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternative GAIA and the Renevlyn Development Initiative, RDI made the advocacy during a Webinar today, themed:’Voices From Mining Communities’.

BUSINESSDAY recalls that President Tinubu on May 10, 2024 commissioned a lithium processing factory in Nasarawa State built by a Chinese firm, Avatar New Energy Materials Company Limited.

The CSOs however decrying the attendant risks attributable to the activities of ungoverned mining, raised concerns on the exposure of the host community to the social, economic and human impact of the process in their communities.

In his opening remarks, Executive Director/ Co-Founder of CODAF, Benin Richard said if the process of mining does not respect nature, protect human rights and the environment, then it is not a ‘just transition’ but another form of energy colonialism.

Richard posited that “The environmental consequences and implications as it concerns the indigenous people, host communities is one that must be addressed to avert a reoccurrence of the Niger-Delta oil pollution”.

In his presentation titled ‘The True Essence of a Just Transition’, Ubrei-Joe Mariere, a member of the Global Advisory Hub of GAIA said “The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is crucial to addressing the climate crisis, but must be done in a responsible and just manner that upholds human rights, protects the environment, and avoids replicating the extractive and exploitative practices of the fossil fuel industry”.

He noted that “While mining for minerals like lithium, cobalt, and copper needed for renewable technologies often occurs in occurs on Indigenous lands and in biodiversity hotspots, it is essential to uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, including their right to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) as per the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adding that mining projects must not proceed without the full consent and participation of affected communities.

He recommended that “To reduce the overall demand for primary metals, circular economy solutions like reuse, recycling, and designing products for disassembly and recyclability must be prioritized, and existing mining operations must adhere to stringent and legally binding regulations that protect communities and the environment”

He added that companies must undertake mandatory human rights due diligence on their supply chains, equitable access to clean energy, robust environmental impact assessment, protection restoration and remediation adding that violations must be met with strict accountability measures”

Ubrei-Joe added that by prioritizing these principles, the transition to renewable energy can be achieved without replicating the injustices and environmental destruction of the fossil fuel era.

In his remarks titled ‘Why Nigeria is Heading On The path of doom’, Philip Jakpor, the executive director of RDI stated that the social, economic and environmental implications of Lithium Mining on the host communities will be too costly.

He noted that following an investigation conducted by the RDI team, the consequences of lithium Mining in the community have exposed the community to increased crime rate, exposure to child labour/prostitution, and water pollution among several other societal ills.

He recalled that just two weeks after the federal government had constituted the mining marshals, 4 Chinese illegal miners were arrested who had come into the community disguised as agriculturalists.