Nigeria harps on social responsibility for mining companies
ABUJA-To sustain peaceful mining activities across solid mineral bearing communities all over Nigeria, the Nigerian Government has advised mining companies to live up to their social responsibilities.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Musa Mohammed Sada gave the advice during an oversight visit to a mining company, Royal Salt Nigeria Limited, at Enyiba in Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
Sada said that the solid mineral endowments in the country are to be explored and exploited for the benefits of the host communities, the companies, Local, State and Federal governments.
The Minister explained that before the commencement of mining activities in any community, there should be a community Development Agreement between the host community and the mining company to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
He advised that the youths should organize themselves into cooperatives for the accessment of the World Bank Grant to facilitate their operations in the Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Sub-sector.
The Minister advised that Local Governments, State Governments and Miners Association should assist the youths to form the cooperative societies to formalize their operations to reduce illegal mining across the country.
Arc. Sada enumerated some of the benefits derivable from community Development Agreements to include employments, provision of social amenities such as schools, hospitals, water, electricity and roads.
The Minister advised that youths and communities should not take laws into their hands when there are disagreements with mining companies, but that they should contact the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and other relevant government establishments to sort out issues.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of Royal Salt Nigeria Limited, Mr. Sunil Pillai thanked the Minister for the visit and assured that the company would abide by its Community Development Agreement with its host communities.
Royal Salt Nigeria Limited is mining Lead/Zinc in Ebonyi State. It is engaged in mining in seven states across the country.
In another related development, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development has directed the management of Nigeria Coal Corporation to furnish him with a comprehensive review of the privatization exercise of the establishment.
Arc. Sada gave the directive during a facility inspection visit to the Nigeria Coal Corporation, Enugu in Enugu State.
The Minister observed that an institutional memory of Coal was necessary for the development of that solid mineral endowment for Nigeria and investors.
He said that the way forward for the development of Coal depends on information and expertise, adding that, an expert unit on Coal has to be put in place in the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
The Minister said that the visit enabled him to know many things about the Nigeria Coal Corporation which he had not been briefed about prior to the visit.
On the issue of sale of Federal Government houses to disengaged staff of the agency, the Minister directed that the issue be included in the review to be forwarded to him for a holistic action on the way forward for the Nigeria Coal Corporation, Enugu, and Enugu State.
The detailed information the Minister directed the management of the Nigeria Coal Corporation, Enugu to forward to him include: documentation on Coal deposits, the Coal Laboratory, the Coal washing plant, smokeless Coal Briquette plant, the Coal Corporation Hospital, Coal Corporation Guest House and Sale of Government Houses.
In his welcome remarks, the Acting General Manager of Nigeria Coal Corporation, Enugu, Mr. Obiora Onwuasigwe said that the establishment had been slated for privatization by the Bureau for Public Enterprises since 2005.
Mr. Onwuasigwe said that since 2005, the establishment has been rendering skeletal services through little subventions from the headquarters of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development without budgetary provisions.
He disclosed that presently, the establishment does not have any bankable data on Coal deposits across the country. Consequently, he sought the assistance of the Minister to keep the establishment functional.