CALABARâ€”The Minister of Environment, Mr. John Odey, has said failure to protect the environment might lead to environmental catastrophe.
He spoke in Ogoja, Cross River State, during an Environmental Impact Assessment Panel Review meeting on the proposed mining of Baryte in Yala local government area of the state.
According to the Minister, who was represented by the Director in the Ministry, Mr. Okonkon Ndem, the impact assessment meeting is to create avenue for interested parties, the prospecting company, host communities and government to put their heads together to discuss ways to promoteÂ sustainable development in communities rich in mineral endowment.
He noted that development was the chief goal of companies located in any environment or community and that such companies, while pursuing those goals, should be mindful of the environment in which they operate.
His words: â€œCompanies are allowed to make profits but they must protect our environmentâ€.
He said in the past, there had been environmental degradation due to poor environmental planning byÂ companies and organisations, with the attendant adverse effects on national economy.
â€œNegative environmental impact in any society is all too glaring; we should learn from the mistakes of developed nation which have had their environments devastated with acid rain, water and air pollution, and a whole range of other hazards,â€ the minister said.
Chairman of Yala local government, Barrister Fidel Egoro Area, said the local government would gladly welcome the companyâ€™s operations and demanded that the company moved its processing plantÂ currently under constructionÂ in OgojaÂ to Yala where the raw materials are.
The General Manger of Emo Ashapura, the mining company, Mr Austin Emo, said the company was one of the first to prospect for baryte in the area and called for friendly relations with the communities so that the benefits accruingÂ from the exploitation of the mineral would lead to sustainable development in the community.