The Federal Government says no mining company is allowed to begin operation in any part of the country without obtaining a community development agreement from the host community.
A member of the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee, Mr. Osseini Ukwenya, said this at a sensitization meeting between miners and host communities in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory.
In a statement made available to our correspondent by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in Abuja on Monday, Ukwenya was quoted to have said a community development agreement was a prerequisite for going into mining operation as prescribed by the nation’s Mining Act.
Ukwenya said through the agreement, a mining operation would be responsible to the host community, adding that it was the responsibility the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee to ensure adherence to the agreements signed by the operators.
He stated that disagreement between a mining operator and a host community was not out of place, but added that through the process of negotiation, issues could be sorted out amicably between the stakeholders.
Ukwenya, who is also the FCT Mines Environmental Compliant Officer, said any displacement resulting from a mining operation should bring about compensation to the owner of the land as the land might not be useful to the owner for a long time even after mining activities.
He noted that the reoccurring issue between operators and host communities had been that of pollution as well as the inability of the operators to keep the agreements entered into with the communities.
“The committee has to advise on matters of pollution, how it affects the community and what the operator should be doing to minimize pollution. It is the duty of operators to ensure that the pollution in their areas of operation is brought to a minimal level,” he added.
Ukwenya said there were issues that need to be addressed in the Mineral and Mining Act, which were part of what the committee needed to resolve based on complaints received from the host communities and operators.
“We will be able to marry them together for proper legislation. This is why we call for an annexure to the existing Minerals Acts to help streamline the process and for proper activities of mining and the benefits of the communities,” he added.
Ukwenya appealed to any aggrieved party to channel their grievances through the appropriate authorities, especially the committee, in order to ensure that no one took the law into their hands as the committee was set to address issues of grievances.