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A’Ibom moves to regulate operations, activities of miners, dredgers

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Dredging machine

Akwa Ibom State Government has issued guidelines to redirect and sanitise operations and activities of illegal gravel miners and sand dredgers in the state.

In a statement issued by Commissioner for the Environment, Charles Udoh in Uyo, yesterday, he said the directives became necessary as activities of illegal sand dredgers and gravel miners have continued to pose environmental and security threat to residents.

He expressed concern that critical state infrastructure and assets were being threatened, while several communities have lost their sources of natural potable water and farmlands devastated due to indiscriminate mining and dredging in parts of the state.

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“It is more worrisome that suspicious characters from all parts of the country are beginning to find dwelling places in the state under the guise of sand dredging or gravel mining,” he said.

Udoh disclosed that due to the urgent need to address the concerns, the state government generated a database of practitioners to ensure that all mining activities were carried out in accordance with extant laws of the state.

“Government has also approved a checklist for all current and prospective artisanal miners, while formal expression of interest to the Ministry of Environment, site inspection, verification and evidence of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with host communities have been perfected.

“Others are evidence of operational permits and licenses from the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), where applicable, acceptable Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and evidence of business registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC),” he added.

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The commissioner said government also requested prospective miners to produce evidence of up-to-date tax clearance from the Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service (AKIRS) and environmental permit issued by the Ministry of Environment to be renewed yearly, while approved locations would be mapped out.

“All prospective miners and current operators must be certified to have completed the process before they commence operations. Also, all operators must subject their sites to mandatory quarterly environmental monitoring and yearly environmental audit.

“The checklist was developed after 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,” he concluded.

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