Salim Adegboyega acting director, Mines, Environmental Compliance Department in the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, disclosed recently that the federal government has spent N1.5 billion to reclaim 20 abandoned mine sites across the country from 2007 to 2014.
He said the ministry had planned to reclaim 100 sites effective from 2007 to 2020 across the country, but was able to reclaim only 20 due to lack of funds for the project.
He explained that paucity of funds meant that only four abandoned mines were reclaimed in 2007; six in 2008; two in 2009; three in 2010; one in 2011; one in 2012 and three in 2014.
The reclaimed sites were located in Edo, Ebonyi, Plateau, Kano, Borno, Abia, Kaduna, Cross River, Bauchi and Nasarawa states.
Adegboyega said, so far, government has identified 1,200 abandoned sites across the country and more would be identified, as the field surveys were still ongoing.
Plateau State has 732 abandoned mining sites, making the state with the highest number. It is followed by Bauchi State, 63; Narasawa State, 36; Borno, 33; Enugu State, two; Katsina State, two and Lagos State, four.
According to the acting director, the ministry had planned to reclaim eight sites annually within the period but due to lack of fund, it had been reclaiming less than the targeted plan yearly and would reclaim three in 2015.
He further noted that about N6 billion was budgeted to reclaim 100 sites effective from 2007 to 2020 at the average cost of N60m per site. Adegboyega explained that the reclamation of a site could cost as high as N200 million and as low as N20 million, depending on the size of the site but on the average it was put at N60 million.
“We reclaim based on the environment statutes and the magnitude of danger the abandoned sites posed to the communities; those are the criteria we looked at,” he said.
Adegboyega claims that mines reclamation is an expensive venture because the cost usually depends on the size of a particular site and the distance between the mine and the location of materials to be used for filling the mines.
He stated that mining sites were abandoned in the past because there were no laws stipulating that they should either be reclaimed or rehabilitated whenever they were no longer active, but the new environmental policy, stipulates that any mineral titleholder must reclaim the land before vacating a mining site.

Maureen Nzeogu
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