………..advocates synergy between Miners and Host Communities
Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee, MIREMCO has organized a sensitization meeting between miners and host communities in Bwari Area Council to discuss issues as it relates to mining activities in the Area Council.
The FCT Mines Environmental Compliant officer and a member of the Committee from the Ministry of Mines and Steel, Engr. Osseini Enoch Ukwenya said the meeting is to ensure harmonious relationship between the operators and the host communities.
Engr. Osseini admitted that there is bound to be disagreement between the operators and the host communities, which he believed is subject to negotiation as mining affects every community including displacement. Displacement, he said should bring about compensation to the owner of the land as the land may not be useful to the owner for a long time even after mining activities.
He said the reoccurring issue between the operators and the host communities has been that of pollution, as well as the inability of the operators to keep the agreement entered into with the communities.
“The committee has to advise on matter of pollution, how does it affect the community and what is the operator doing to minimize the pollution. It is the duty of the operators to ensure that the pollution in their areas of operation are brought to minimal level” he added.
Engr. Osseini called on mining operators to be responsible to the community where they are operating as he said the committee is putting all hands on deck to ensure that no operator operates in any community without a Community Development Agreement (CDA), which he said is very critical to the ministry. The committee is also to ensure adherence to the agreement signed by the operators.
He agreed that there are issues that need to be addressed in the Mineral and Mining Act, which he said are part of what the Committee needs to resolve, based on complaints received from host communities and the operators. “We will be able to marry them together for proper legislation, what we call an annexure to the present existing mineral acts to help streamline the process and for a proper activities of mining and the benefits of the communities”
He appealed to any aggrieved party to channel their grievances through the appropriate authorities, especially through the Committee, in order to ensure that no one takes law into his hand as the Committee is set to address issues of grievances.
Engr. Osseini listed the functions of the Committee to include; advising the Minister of Mines and Steel Development on Matters affecting pollution and environmental degradation at the mining sites; advising the Minister on issues affecting returns of necessary report affecting grants of Mining Titles.
Others are; to consider issues affecting compensation and make necessary recommendations to the minister as well as advising the Minister on matters connected to the implementation of the Minerals and Mining Act of 2007.
The Federal Mines Officer in charge of FCT and Secretary of the Committee, Engr. Ayelabola Olubunmi said part of the reasons for the meeting was to re-awaken the operators of their social responsibilities to the host communities based on community development.
He also stressed the need to strengthen the grey areas in the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007, which he said will help, in making more inputs into the sector through legislation.
He appealed for continuing cooperation of Etsu of Bwari and other District Heads present at the meeting, to ensure a peaceful coexistence and harmonious relationship between the host communities and the operators while encouraging the operators to do more community projects and engage them on social responsibility.
In his remarks, the Etsu of Bwari, HRH Ibrahim Yaro (JP) commended the Ministry for constituting the Committee which he believed would bring about peace and sustainability between the operators and the host communities. He pointed out the need for the Committee to always copy him, as the paramount ruler when issuing licenses to operators within his domain.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman, Bwari Local Government Area Council, represented by the Head of Administration of the Council, Mr. Mohammad Musa Loko advised that the Committee should ensure that the area council is given a level of control when it comes to the issue of mining operators within the local government.
He appealed that the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007 be amended and assigns critical role to the local government since issues relating to the host communities is under its purview.