• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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The Silence of the Ministry of Solid Minerals; Is there a Complacency?

The Silence of the Ministry of Solid Minerals; Is there a Complacency?

It is quite pathetic that, although it has been two weeks since the issue of unregulated mining in the OAU gained public attention, the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals has not found it worthy to react, not to talk of mandating security agencies to go after everyone involved in this reckless act. The deafening silence of the Minister of Solid Minerals suggests complacency. It suggests that there was a conspiracy between these miners and the Minister to endanger the lives of both staff and students at OAU through unregulated mining.

As it stands today, there are complaints of gold contamination of the university dam, which provides water for members of the university, as a result of unregulated mining. How callous can these people and their enablers be? Yet, no single reaction so far has been made by the Minister of Solid Minerals. The invasion of university land for mining purposes is a serious issue that must not be swept under the rug. Though the artisans have left the mining sites after the public outcry, examples must be made of everyone involved in this unregulated mining. It is simply a crime against humanity. A preconceived genocide!

Whether the 11 companies that are said to have been licenced to mine on the OAU campus have been paying revenue to the federal government is another issue in its entirety. But the issue is that, as claimed by the university management, some sections of the university land were invaded by these miners without the consent of the management. What audacity!

The Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 stipulates that “where any land within the area is subject to a right of occupancy, he or she must give prior notice to the lawful occupier and the local government chair of the area where the land is located and must pay compensation for damage caused.” The management must indeed pressure the Ministry of Solid Minerals to provide the details of those companies licenced by the Mining Cadastral Office to mine at the university without the consent of the management. And it must not stop there; everyone involved in the illegal mining must be identified, arrested, and prosecuted.

The last time I checked, the land OAU sits on has been gazetted for the university; hence, whatever mining activity must be done must not be without the consent of the management. Or, who does mining without concluding a community development agreement with the host community before the commencement of mine development or extraction as provided for in the Mining Act?

The Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 also provides for environmental considerations, which encompass the prevention of pollution, host community rights, the establishment of environmental protection and rehabilitation programmes, and establishment of an e the establishment of an environmental protection and rehabilitation fund. Unfortunately, the mining activities of these reckless dregs have resulted in different forms of land degradation that range in size and depth because of the absence of monitoring, which made them mine without recourse to international best practices.

In fact, I expect the management to insist that everyone involved in the reckless and unregulated mining be arrested and prosecuted, not just for invasion but also for endangering the lives of staff and students at the university. The Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 requires holders of mining titles to minimise and manage any environmental impact resulting from their activities and to rehabilitate or reclaim all disturbed land and pay rent and royalties that may become due. Unfortunately, none of these have so far been adhered to by these reckless miners. The degraded land has been abandoned after the public outcry without being reclaimed or rehabilitated, which will definitely have a mass negative impact on the members of the university community sooner.

It is public knowledge that leftover chemicals and heavy metals that were used in the mining process will be present at the abandoned mining sites. Meanwhile, these substances have the potential to leach into the soil and surrounding water bodies, including the university dam, which will contribute to the poisoning of the water supply on campus that is already being complained of by stakeholders on campus.

Also, these reckless miners invaded land areas that are regarded as protected areas for mineral exploration. The mining close to the public road, which was carried out and is now abandoned at Ede Road beside the cooperative hostel, is one example, and the mining at the University Junior Staff Quarters on Road 7, which is within 50 km of the university dam, is another example. These are worrisome activities that will definitely have a negative effect on the health and lives of students and staff. The minister must therefore act.

Kazeem Olalekan Israel writes from OAU, Ile-Ife