By Emma Una, Calabar
Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uche Ogah has warned states, local government areas and communities not to interfere or stop mining activities in their areas but rather report any complaint to the Ministry or Federal Mines Officer in their states.
Dr Ogah who stated this in Calabar during a Town Hall meeting with miners and stakeholders on Friday while on a working tour of the state said mining is still on the Exclusive list of the Federal Government and only it, through the Ministry of Mines has the powers to award mining rights and also stop any mining activity which contravenes the law.
“The 2007 Mining Act which I commend those who drafted the law identifies mining and its sister, petroleum exploration and exploitation as revenue yielding sources through which the federal government shares to the three tiers of government funds for the payment of salaries, the building of roads, provision of healthcare facilities among other developmental activities and as such we guard against obstruction and unnecessary interference jealously”.
He maintained that if communities with mineral deposits are allowed to dictate what happens in mining sites, those from whose soil oil is extracted may also agitate for control. So there must be a balance between government and the communities in terms of monitoring and provision of approval for mining activities.
He said Cross-Rivers has thirty-three mineral deposits and if fully exploited, an aggregate of thirteen percent from the revenue generated from such minerals can provide enough funds to cater for most of the financial needs of the state.
“The Federal Government through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development is seeking for partnership with Cross River State so that a conducive atmosphere can be provided for full exploitation of these deposits which can bring a fortune to the state through Value Added Tax, employment generation and community development”.
Senator Ben Ayade, the governor of the state said most often, miners bypass the state government with the erroneous impression that it has no role in mining activity yet the Land Use Act domiciles ownership of land to the state and if any miner feels since the rights to mine is given by the federal government then such miner should pass through the air and mine the mineral and also take the air to evacuate the mineral without using the state’s land
“Some miners come here and go straight to the communities sign and Agreement and begin to mine without recourse to the state yet after they have finished it is the state that bears the brunt of having people drown in pits left behind or devastation of the soil making it uninhabitable so we have to work in partnership with the federal government and communities for the protection of our environment for the future generation”.