The Federal Government, and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), have concluded programmes, aimed at advancing economic benefits, and safeguard the environment of artisanal and small-scale gold mining in Nigeria.
The Regional Director, UNIDO, Jean B. Bakole, during a virtual conference, said over 90 percent of Nigeria’s mineral sector activities are being carried out by these miners, and there are lots of uses of chemical and harmful substances in mining sites.
Bakole also cited the cases of lead poisoning in Zamfara and Niger states, which was complicated by miners taking dangerous substances containing ores to fuse with mercury, and in the process releasing it into the environment.
He added that the development of the programme will further strengthen UNIDO’s partnership with Nigeria’s mining industry, and the environment sector, and will give priority to improve industrialisation and safeguard the mineral sector.
His words: “We have a history of working in artisanal and small-scale gold mining sectors globally, and we are also implementing national action plans, and other mining projects in several African countries and other parts of the world.”x
He argued that if Nigeria wants to achieve up to seven percent contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) from the sector by 2031, then the development and growth must be sustainable.
Contributing, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, re-affirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to the partnership with UNIDO, and other stakeholders to ensure the actualisation of the objective of the project.
Adegbite said the programme will contribute immensely to the implementation of the Ministry’s roadmap for the mining sector development, and equally boost Nigeria’s economic diversification drive.
Also, Jonah Stanley of the Global Environment Facility in Nigeria expressed delight over efforts being made to address the menace of the use of mercury in gold mining, especially among smallholders, who constitute the larger percentage of miners.
According to Stanley, GEF has intervened on environmental issues, adding that this particular project has been ingeniously packaged to not only eliminate chemical pollution in mining activities but also to improve the health and livelihood of the people.