Federation of Nigerian Mining Host Communities, Global Rights Nigeria and Other Key Stakeholders Convened For a Town Hall Dialogue On The Impact Of Artisanal And Large Scale Mining Activities On Host Communities

The history of mining in Nigeria has a connection to Nigeria’s nationhood, and has played a relevant role in the socioeconomic development of the country pre and post-independence.

In view of this and the recent development in the mining sector, the Federation of Nigerian Mining Host Communities and Global Rights Nigeria convened its inaugural summit on the 11th of October 2019 to deliberate on the common trends in their communities, reviewing the impacts of artisanal, and large-scale mining activities on their communities and development. 

The summit had in attendance the key stakeholders in the mining sector, these includes; the representatives of the federation of Nigerian mining host communities from the six geopolitical zones, representatives from the Federal Ministry of Environment, National Social Investment Office amongst others.

The Federation observed that while mining holds the potential of prospering their host communities when done in a sustainable manner, Nigeria’s extractive industry is froth with numerous problems which has adversely affected the development of these host communities. 

The problems numerated by the federation are; security challenges, environment and water pollution etc. The Federation realise that these problems are caused by the gaps in the laws governing mining in Nigeria, failure of investors to comply with mining laws and regulations, lack of inter-ministerial coordination, lack of technical know-how by artisanal miners, and failure to respect the rights of mining host communities to free, prior and informed consent as prescribed by the ECOWAS Mining Directives by which Nigeria is bound.

The Federation is concerned that the disconnect between the mining companies and their host communities on the one hand, and the government on the other hand has led to miscommunication of intentions, corruption, poverty and lack of effective monitoring of mining activities thereby putting the environment and health of the health of the people in jeopardy, and negatively impacting livelihoods. 

They have noted that there is need to prioritize which minerals are prime for extraction particularly taking climate change into cognizance. For instance, the world is moving beyond coal, due to its high-level carbon cost and Nigeria’s COPP22 communities needs to be reconsidered.

A representative from a mining host community in Zamfara state testified to the adverse effect of artisanal mining in his community. He informed the stakeholders that over 700 children have died in his community and lots of the youths in the community are unemployed which has led to the high level of insecurities recorded in the community. 

Also, a representative from a mining host community in Ebonyi state also addressed the stakeholders on how the workers of these mining companies molest the indigenes of the community. The federation acknowledged all the testimonials given by these communities as being accurate, urging the government to rise up to their responsibility and come to the aid of these communities.

It was also observed that the regime of mining laws and regulations are in need of reforms in order to guarantee adequate protection of mining host communities.

The following recommendations were made by the federation:

i.                    Mining laws and policies must reflect the reality that more than 80% of mining activities in Nigeria are artisanal in nature and therefore must make provision for these activities; and ensure that artisanal mining contributes to government revenue, while respecting environmental safeguard.

ii.                   The legal requirements guiding social safeguards, in particular, the process of reaching Community Development Agreement and obtaining social license for mining should be strengthened to effectively protect the rights of mining host communities, and reflect collective desires.

iii.                 The legal requirements for Environmental Impact Assessments should be expanded to become Environmental, Social and Human Rights Impact Assessments, and should develop standards for artisanal mining.

iv.                 There is limited literacy in English in most of the country, government must therefore ensure that impact assessments, laws, and policies are translated into local languages to ensure mining host communities are not disenfranchised.

The representatives from the Federal Ministry of Environment, Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals and Natural Resources, the National Social Investment Office amongst others promised to partner with the Federation in order to ensure and safeguard the security and welfare of indigenes of these host communities and also asked that the indigenes collaborate with their efforts in order to better serve them.

The Federation appreciated the role of Global Rights an organisation that advocates for sustainable justice and other civil society organizations for their contribution to the capacity building and development of the host mining communities.

It is therefore imperative that government takes necessary steps to ensure the safety of the indigenes of these communities.