The Enugu State Committee on Mining activities, led by its Chairman and Commissioner for Environment and Climate Change, Prof. Sam Ugwu, stormed a mining site in Awhum, Udi Local Government Area, owned by Milhouse Energy Services Ltd.
During the inspection, the Committee discovered various infringements, including environmental degradation, blasting without approval and due regulations, non-remittance of staff tax to the State government despite deducting same from the staff, and non-remittance of pension contributions to the pension scheme despite deducting same from the staff.
Ugwu said the government would not fold its hands and watch the environment destroyed and lives endangered. He said the government is also interested in what happens to the host communities and their environs many years after these miners have closed shop, and will not allow the same environmental degradation that occurred in the Niger Delta to happen in Enugu.
He faulted the claim by the operators of the mine that they started mining activities at the site in 2022, saying from all indications, the site has been in operation for more than five years. He said government is aware of other mining sites in different parts of the State operating illegally and without license or running foul of environmental protection laws and regulations, and that the government is coming after all of them.
The Committee also served a notice on African Pits and Quarries Ltd to stop operations immediately and report to the Government House on Thursday.
The Committee warned the company to desist and stop all mining activities in the environment, and that failure to comply may lead to their arrest and prosecution. The company is required to furnish the government with a list of all necessary licenses and approvals, as well as evidence of environmental remediation plans.
The General Manager in charge of operations at the Awhum site, Akintola Oluwafemi, assured that the company would comply with government directives, but said the firm obtained all necessary licenses from the Federal Government and was also mindful of environment in its operations.
The Enugu State Government’s actions are a welcome development in the fight against illegal mining and environmental degradation. It is important to ensure that mining activities are carried out in a sustainable and responsible manner, and that the rights of host communities are protected.