By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA – The Federal Government has advised Quarry operators to comply with safety rules and regulations for sustainable development in the mining industry in Nigeria.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Musa Mohammed Sada, who gave the charge during an interactive session on Wednesday with the quarry operators, in Abuja, observed that most of the quarry operators are not operating in line with the relevant sections of the Minerals and Mining Act of 2007 pertaining to environmental safety and sustainability.
Sada further noted that the implication of the focus on the development of the Minerals and Metals Sector is that all Mineral Title holders must carry out their activities in a sustainable manner in order to achieve economic, social and environmental objectives of government, adding that, that is the reason for the interactive session.
He said operators must carry out their activities in a sustainable manner as the government does not want â€œan industry that you will have a boom at the inception and all of sudden everything will collapseâ€.
While urging them to take advantage of government desire to diversify the nation’s economy, he explained that no other sector has more opportunity to create jobs than the mining industry.
â€œThe solid mineral sector of the Nigerian economy has a high potential to support industrial investment and development of the real sectorâ€, he noted.
Arc. Sada said that the interactive session was necessary because of the present administration’s agenda to diversify the nation’s economic from oil to the non-oil sectors with particular emphasis on the development of the Minerals and Metals Sector.
According to the Minister, â€œAll stakeholders should attach importance to the issues that will enhance the efforts of the Ministry in ensuring an orderly development of the Solid Minerals sector.â€
To address the challenge of safety and environmental compliance among quarry operators, the Minister disclosed that he would have similar interactive sessions with all quarry operators in all the states of the federation.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has disclosed that said it has sought for additional one year extension to the US$120 million mining development grant from the World Bank.
If the government is successful the grant period which is due to expire by 2012 would now be extended to 2013. The grant is meant to boost the mining sector and aid small and artisanal miners.
According to the Minister, â€œWorld Bank has a time limit once they establish a programme there is maximum time you can access the fund. The current programme is supposed to finish in 2012 and we asking for another year extension.
â€œThe issue here to get it clearer is that if they give you a time period and they give you certain amount of money, if you spend half the money within the period that is what you get because it is time bound. When the time is up they pack their baggage and go.â€
Speaking on behalf of quarry owners, former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Audu Ogbeh said Nigeria needs more quarries in other to meet up with housing demands of the its citizens.
Chief Ogbeh assured the Federal Government of his members’ commitment for compliance with the Minerals and Mining Act of 2007 as regards environmental compliance and safety for sustainable mining.
â€œWe the Quarry operators are ready to abide by the rules and regulations guiding our operations.â€
He told the Minister that the Quarry operators within the Federal Capital Territory would form an association for easy co-ordination and to ensure compliance with the relevant rules and regulations forÂ operators in the sub-sector.
The spokesperson for the Quarry operators drew the attention of the Honourable Minister to the challenges of developers constructing residential houses close to quarry sites at Mpape in Abuja whichÂ is hazardous.
Consequently, he sought the assistance of the Minister of Mines and Steel Development to liaise with the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory to stop that trend.