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Mining collapses affects Nigeria environments

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By Usman Oladimeji

Government must address the ongoing issue of collapsed mining sites.

The latest tragedy at the Mining site in Galadima Kogo, Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State has highlighted the urgency for authorities to address neglected mining sites and enforce regulations to prevent environmental crises and safeguard the rights of communities. The incident which occurred on Tuesday, June 4, 2024, claimed the lives of over 30 people. Following the state top government officials’ visit to the area, it was revealed that the disaster was caused by miners blatantly ignoring the state government’s order to suspend all activities and leave the sites until further notice issued a few months ago.

Alhaji Yunusa Mohammed Nahauni, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, who spoke to reporters after visiting the collapsed site pointed out there is a  lack of cooperation between the mining company’s management director and the district head. Despite being ordered to leave the site, they continued operations, showing a lack of compliance and coordination, he added. Governments must address the ongoing issue of collapsed sites to mitigate the risks linked to mining operations, necessitating swift and resolute action from all levels of government.

Deserted mines have become a breeding ground for illegal miners.

Research indicates that a multitude of factors contribute to the frequent mine collapses in countries like Nigeria, where there is a wealth of solid minerals and a significant presence of both legal and illegal miners. The primary causes of these collapses in Nigeria are linked to the government’s focus on oil discovery and the subsequent neglect of solid minerals. This diversion has resulted in the abandonment of numerous sites across Nigeria, leaving them unremediated, a prevalent issue in many communities across the country.

These deserted mine sites have become a breeding ground for illegal miners, who swarmed in to take advantage of the vacancy left by the government and foreign companies. This led to a dangerous expansion of Illegal Mining activities, posing a threat to the surrounding communities. Due to the rise of climate-related concerns, these illegal activities have significantly increased the risk of flooding and other natural disasters in host communities. These communities frequently encounter open pits, destroyed landscapes, contaminated water sources, and various other disruptions.

Approximately 1,200 abandoned mining sites in Nigeria.

Back in the 1960s, Nigeria heavily relied on mining as a key pillar of its Economy, leading to widespread operations across different states. However, the majority of these sites have now been abandoned. For instance, Enugu is home to several deserted sites, including the now desolate Onyeama Coal Mine that used to buzz with activity. In response to the ongoing issue of illegal mining operations in Nigeria, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development Dele Alake, has announced that the federal government has granted a 30-day opportunity for unauthorized miners to participate in artisanal cooperatives.

According to reports, there were approximately 1,200 abandoned mining sites in Nigeria that had not been properly closed or rehabilitated as of 2017. These sites are causing Environmental Degradation and physical hazards such as unstable mine shafts, sinkholes, and water-filled pits. The impact of these illegal activities cannot be overlooked, as it poses a threat to both the sites and the communities surrounding them. Faith Nwadishi, executive director of the Centre for Transparency Advocacy, attributes mine collapses in Nigeria to various causes and emphasizes the need for stricter regulations to address this issue.

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Faith identified various reasons for the collapses, including poor safety regulations, ineffective enforcement, illegal operations, environmental negligence, and insufficient government supervision. She called on the authorities to take action by enforcing stricter regulations, conducting thorough environmental assessments, and strictly adhering to the recommendations provided. She further suggested that the government should consider investing in enhancing miners’ skills and providing them with advanced tools. Strengthening regulations against unauthorized activities and enhancing the supervision and monitoring procedures were also mentioned as essential steps. Moreover, supporting environmentally-friendly mining practices and ensuring the Sustainability of operations were also highlighted as crucial measures to prevent disasters.


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