Nigerian Policy Framework on Minerals

Nigerian Policy Framework on Minerals

Organized mining began in 1903 when the Mineral Survey of the Northern Protectorates was created by the British colonial government. A year later, the Mineral Survey of the Southern Protectorates was founded. By the 1940s, Nigeria was a major producer of tin, columbite, and coal. The discovery of oil in 1956 hurt the mineral extraction industries, as government and industry both began to focus on this new resource. The Nigerian Civil War in the late 1960s led many expatriate mining experts to leave the country.

Mining regulation is handled by the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development, which oversees the management of all mineral resources.  In driving the policy framework for mineral development, the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act (NMMA) 2007 has established some structures to ensure the proper functioning of the mining sector. Prominent among these are the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO), the use of the Community Development Agreement (CDA) and the Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation Programme (EPRP).


Section 116 (2) and (3) of the NMMA provides that the holder of a Mining Lease, Small-scale Mining Lease or Quarry Lease shall prior to the commencement of any development activity within the lease area, conclude with the host community where the operations are to be conducted an agreement referred to as a Community Development Agreement or other such agreement that will ensure the transfer of social and economic benefits to the community. The Community Development Agreement shall contain undertakings with respect to the social and economic contributions that the project will make to the sustainability of such community.

In order to raise the standards of CDA development and writing in conformity with global best practice, the Ministry came up with guidelines for the production of CDAs. In the Guidelines, the key elements of good CDA development and process are laid out as follows, inter alia:

  • Timeframe and Process
  • Stakeholder Participation
  • Capacity of Participation Stakeholders
  • Community Identification
  • Community Representation
  • Funding of the CDA and the Projects
  • Obligation and Responsibility
  • Grievance and Dispute Resolution Mechanisms
  • CDA Monitoring


Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation Program (EPRP)

To safeguard the minefield and its environment, section 120 of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 stipulates that every mineral title holder (that is, a holder of an Exploration License, Mining Lease, Small Scale Mining Lease and Quarry Lease) shall, prior to the commencement of any mining activity, submit to MMSD an Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation Program (EPRP).

The EPRP shall provide, among other things, for specific rehabilitation and reclamation action, cost estimates for each specific rehabilitation and reclamation actions, a reasonable estimate of the total cost of rehabilitation, time table for the orderly and efficient rehabilitation and reclamation of the mineral title area for a safe and environmental sound condition suitable for future economic development, and amount to be contributed into the Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation Fund for the purpose of guaranteeing environmental obligations of mineral title holders.


Impact of Mining Activities on the Environment

Mining practices in the country have resulted in widespread environmental degradation in the form of air particulate emissions, the flow of chemicals from abandoned mines and ponds, water contamination, littering of radioactive waste and land degradation. The cases of human fatalities from lead poisoning prompted by mining remain widespread as well.

Furthermore, the doses of air pollution unleashed by solid mineral processing involving limestone quarrying and cement industry along Shagamu and Ewekoro areas of Ogun state in the western region constitutes serious hazards to the public. While the discomfort miles away involves public complaints of eye pains and asthmatic attacks by airborne particulates laced with toxic dust, the concentration and impacts of the plumes on flora led to the decline of kola nut production from local plantations.

Elsewhere in the Middle Belt area of the country, communities in several ways have been at the receiving end of damages caused by abandoned mines. Obviously, the people of Plateau state have reluctantly endured the burden of risks from abandoned mines in the country over the years.

Considering the damage done to the area from past eras, there are now recurrent dangers from radioactive mine tailings scattered all over to people living around mining fields in Jos, Barkin-Ladi, Bukuru, Bossa and Riyom districts. The risks stem from over 1,000 mine ponds spread all over abandoned minefields along Jos Plateau.

While many of the mining ponds within major roads, farmlands, and human settlements in communities with higher level of radiation led to mysterious deaths of citizens in areas that used high level of monazite-rich sand for building. The presence of 1,100 to 4,000 tin and columbite mines, abandoned after the mining boom of the 1960s, now pose serious health hazards to close to 2 million residents in Jos.

Most of these abandoned mines when flooded become death traps where citizens drown. This has been compounded by the exposure of citizens to 325 km2 of contaminated land coupled with the presence of carcinogenic radioactive materials and the littering of brain damaging mining wastes in the Jos plateau area. Other instances of fatalities through mining occurred in the Madaka Rafi Local government of Niger State in 2015.

The outbreak was far more devastating along the Kwao village area near to the lower stream of the River Kaduna tributary known for the mining of gems and gold. The debacle was characterized by a seemingly exploitative patronage by wealthy dealers of poor artisanal miners operating illegally with risky techniques and little considerations for environmental hazards. Under those conditions, sediments from washed gems and gold on nearby stream flowing down Kawo village turned into a nightmare when citizens unknowingly utilized lead poisoned water for domestic needs from the stream.

This exposed villages to deadly poisoning that resulted in many fatalities. Other instances of health risks come from the death of 400 hundred children from lead poisoning due to illegal mining activities in 2010 in Zamfara state in Northern Nigeria, and water contamination threats from coal mines in the Enugu area. Of great danger to the ecosystem are the 2000 dug pits from gold mining in the Igun Ijesha area of Ogun state and the fact that the menace of illegal mining in Afikpo, Ebonyi state continues to ravage communities in the area.

Other localities affected by large-scale environmental damage are the Niger Delta as a result of oil and gas exploration and exploitation; Sagamu, Okpilla, Ewekoro, Ashaka and Gboko owing to quarrying of limestone and the establishment of Portland cement manufacturing company; and in Enugu as a result of coal mining.

Environment” has three components, namely, the sum total of external conditions in which organisms exist; the organisms themselves including the floral and faunal community; and the physical surroundings such as landforms. All these three aspects, which include various entities such as air, water, land, vegetation, animals including human, landscape and geomorphological features, historical heritage etc. are adversely affected one way or the other during the course of mineral development.

Essentially, the impact of mining activities is seen in the following areas:

  1. Air, land and water pollution
  2. Damage of vegetation
  3. Ecological disturbance
  4. Degradation of natural landscape
  5. Geological hazards
  6. Socio-environment problems

Exposure to natural radiations emitted by some radioactive minerals is a major source of health hazards. The radiation intensity increases when the minerals are concentrated. It has been established that some minerals such as monazite, pyrochlore and xenotime, which are obtained as by products of tin mining in the Jos Plateau, are radioactive. Because of lack of market, most of these minerals, which were in form of concentrate, are abandoned in many previous mining sites on the plateau. Some of these sites had mining communities, which developed into villages where a high level of radiation has been recorded.

Impact of Illegal and Artisanal Mining in Nigeria

Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is one of those terms that do not lend itself to a universally acceptable definition. ASM is a livelihood strategy adopted primarily in rural areas. Minerals extracted by artisanal and small-scale mining by people working with simple tools and equipment, usually in the informal sector, outside the legal and regulatory framework. When not formalised and organised, ASM can be viewed negatively by governments, environmentalists, etc.; because of its potential for environmental damage and social disruption and conflicts.

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Currently, artisanal and small-scale mining ranges from artisanal miners to small-scale mechanised outfits and within this range are various levels depending on their financial capacity.

Artisanal Mining according to the Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 means:

  • Mining operations limited to the utilisation of non-mechanised methods of reconnaissance, exploration, extraction and processing of mineral resources within a small-scale mining lease area.

Small-scale Mining according to the Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 means:

  • Artisanal and other forms of mining operations involving the use of low-level technology or application of methods not requiring substantial expenditure for the conduct of Mining operations within Small-scale Leases areas.

From 1970 till date, ASM has continued to dominate mining in Nigeria. ASM accounts for over 90% of solid minerals mining in the country. Minerals produced include, but are not limited to, gold, barite, limestone, gemstones and gypsum. More than 107 ASM sites are identified in the country and more than 200,000 people are directly involved.

Health issues associated with ASM include

  1. Stone lungs/silicosis (dust)
  2. Lead poisoning (dust)
  3. Mercury poisoning
  4. Cyanide
  5. Radiation
  6. Noise

Generally, common environmental impacts associated with ASM as well as mining generally include:

  • Deforestation, destruction of landforms and soil erosion leading to land degradation.
  • Pollution of previously potable water.
  • Changes in river regime and ecology due to pollution, siltation, sedimentation and flow modification.
  • Destruction of adjacent habitats from influx of migrant workers and encroachments.
  • Destruction of natural habitats at ASM sites and at waste disposal sites.
  • Land instability.

According to the Statutory Requirements of the Mineral and Mining Act, 2007, the operator needs to obtain a Water use Permit from MCO, if required. The operator is also required to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment Statement and a mitigation plan which should define the actions needed to minimise the negative environmental impact of the mining operations to be approved by the Federal Ministry of Environment.

The ASM operator and the host community are required to sign a Community Development Agreement which should be submitted to the MECD for approval. The link between ASM and poverty is profound and complex. ASM may be the means by which women, children or their families who work at mining sites earn money for daily living, school fees, et cetera.


By Admin

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