Akwa Ibom State government has issued guidelines to redirect and sanitize activities of illegal miners and sand dredgers in the state.
In a statement signed by the state commissioner for environment, Mr. Charles Udoh and made available to Journalists in Uyo yesterday, he said the order has become necessary as activities of illegal sand dredgers and gravel miners has posed severe environmental and security threat to residents.
The statement expressed worry that critical state infrastructure and assets are threatened while several communities have lost their sources of natural drinking water with farm lands devastated due to indiscriminate mining and dredging in multiple locations in the state.
“It is even more worrisome that suspicious characters from all parts of the country are beginning to find dwelling places in our state under the guise of sand dredging or gravel mining.” he said.
According to the Commissioner, because of the urgent need to address these concerns, “the state government has generated a data base of practitioners in the area to ensure that all mining activities in state are carried out in accordance with the extant laws” .
“It has also approved a checklist for all current and prospective artisanal miners including formal expression of interest to the state Ministry of Environment (MoE), site verification/Inspection and evidence of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with host communities.
“Others include evidence of operational permit/license by Federal Ministry of Mines & Steel (MoM&S) and National Inland WaterWay Authority (NIWA), where applicable, acceptable Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and evidence of business registration with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
“It also requested prospective miners to produce evidence of up-to-date tax clearance from Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service (AKIRS) and environmental Permit issued by the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Environment (MoE). This is renewable annually while approved locations will be mapped.
“It is important to note that all prospective miners and current operators must be certified to have completed this process before commencement of operation. Furthermore, all operators must subject their sites to a mandatory quarterly environmental monitoring as well as an annual environmental audit.
“This checklist was developed after due consultation with other relevant regulatory bodies. Implementation takes immediate effect. We count on the cooperation of all current and prospective artisanal miners, community leaders and related agencies in ensuring the safety of our environment.”