ILLEGAL MINERS TAKEOVER ABANDONED COAL INDUSTRY

The National Environmental Standard Regulation and Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has decried the neglect of the mining sector by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

According to the agency, the mining sector has been left in the hands of hoodlums to exploit.

NESREA Coordinator in Enugu, Pele Egbagiri, who spoke to News Agency of Nigeria in an interview, said the mining sector if properly harnessed, would play a significant role in the government’s efforts to diversify and develop the nation’s economy.

Egbagiri said illegal mining has become common in the country, which he said undermines the nation’s economy.

He said, “For instance, in Enugu State, with a huge deposit of coal, the federal government has abandoned coal mining, leaving it for hoodlums who have engaged in the illegal mining of this very important solid mineral capable of giving power to the entire South-East and beyond.

“These illegal miners engage in illegal business without considering the environmental hazards associated with unprofessional coal mining. Their only interest is to make quick money to the detriment of the nation’s economy.”

The NESREA Coordinator described the environmental hazards associated with illegal mining activities in Enugu as enormous, citing landslides, earthquakes and the emission of poisonous gas from the mining sites.

Egbagiri also disclosed that illegal miners had lost their lives on several occasions. According to him, most times, “they are buried alive, especially when necessary precautionary measures are not applied or strictly adhered to”.

He further lamented that the large deposits of solid minerals across the nation have not been tapped, noting that solid minerals like coal, gold, tin, steel and others would boost the nation’s economy and contribute significantly to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) if fully tapped.

Egbagiri described investment in the mining sector as needed for the country to move away from its overdependence on oil.

He urged the government to urgently design a comprehensive investment plan to explore the nation’s mining sector through massive investment in the solid minerals deposited across the country.

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