Illegal mining threatens Dangote’s proposed $600m plant
The company said BUA Group’s activities in the area could also unsettle investors and undermine its sustainability plan.
Addressing journalists in Lagos at the weekend, Group Executive Director (Strategy, Capital Projects and Portfolio Development) of Dangote Group, Mr. Devakumar Edwin, said the mining lease of the contentious site belonged to Dangote Cement Plc and would not expire until 2033.
The company stated that continuous illegal activities within its ML 2541 is fast depleting limestone reserves, sabotaging the Group’s investment and scuttling plans for its three million metric tonnes cement plant.
BUA Group had accused Dangote of trying to force it to relinquish mining rights in a limestone field as part of bid to monopolise the cement market. But the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development debunked the claims stating that the BUA Group did not have a mining lease over the contentious site No. 2541ML and therefore, declared mining activities in the said area illegal.
Edwin explained that although another operator was abusing Dangote’s lone mining licence, the company would not join issues, but only correct the impression that it was promoting monopoly.
“Dangote Group validly acquired its interest and mining title in the disputed Mining Lease No. 2541 from AICO Ado Ibrahim & Company Ltd sometime in 2014,” he said.
“AICO itself had applied to the Mining Cadastre Office and Ministry of Mines and Steel Development for the said Mining Lease No. 2541 located in a boundary town of Oguda/Ubo in Okene Kogi State in 2007. The ministry in exercise of its power under the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 granted and issued to AICO ML. No. 2541 for the renewable period of 25 years effective from 1st February 2008 and to expire on 31 January, 2033. “
He further explained that, by a letter dated February 5, 2016, the Ministry wrote to the Managing Director of the Dangote Group to convey the approval of the Ministry for the Transfer/Assignment of ML No. 2541 from AICO to Dangote Group with effect from February 3, 2016.
He said even BUA in its process in court acknowledged that the illegal mining leases which it claimed were granted in 1997 were temporary leases.
Edwin also recalled that the then Minister for Solid Minerals under Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, in 2006 waded into the dispute and invited the managements of Edo Cement Company Limited and Ado Ibrahim & Company Limited for a meeting and where the then minister again queried the legality of Mining Lease Nos 18912 and 18913 and the power of the Governor of Edo State to grant such leases.
Edwin said AICO, who sold the right to Dangote, continued its operations in the Mining Lease No. 2541 undisturbed until BUA Group acquired Edo Cement Company Limited and resuscitated the dispute again.
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