By Francis Adinoyi Kadiri
The federal government today said that it had identified 1,200 abandoned mining sites across Nigeria. The acting director of mines environmental and compliance department in the ministry of mines and steel development,MrSalimAdegboyega, disclosed this to the press in Abuja.
He said that more abandoned mining sites would be identified as the field surveys were still ongoing.Adegboyega recalled that the federal government reclaimed many abandoned mining sites which were managed by the Northern regional government in 1955.
“The federal government gave some grants to the Northern regional government and about 1,000 mines were said to have been reclaimed through biological and other means then,’’ he said.
Adegboyega said that the federal government also reclaimed several abandoned mining sites in 1980.He said that the ministry had reclaimed 17 abandoned mining sites out of the 1,200 identified sites. The reclaiming costs an average of N80 and N100 million each, he said
The reclaimed sites were in Ebonyi, Plateau, Kano, Borno, Abia, Kaduna and Cross River states, among others. The rating of sites was based on the potential degree of their environmental hazard. The ministry selected the first 40 mining sites out of the 1,200 identified sites for the reclamation.
He said that the ministry planned to reclaim 100 sites annually between 2007 and 2020, regretted however that paucity of funds is hindering the ministry, the low number of reclaimed sites. “We estimated about N6 billion for 100 sites in 2007, but only N1.1 billion has been released.”
The ministry plans to reclaim three mining sites this year, “but the management had yet to decide on the locations of these sites,” he said
He said that it was virtually impossible to reclaim all the abandoned mining sites because some of the ponds at the sites were now being used for irrigation farming, fishing and water supply for domestic and industrial purposes.
He said that for instance, 20 mining companies in Ondostate had been sanctioned for not complying with extant mining and environmental laws.