FG strives to reduce mercury use in Nigeria – Perm Sec

Abuja, Jan. 14, 2018 (TNE) The Federal Government says it is working assiduously to develop a National Action Plan (NAP) to reduce the use of Mercury in Nigeria.

Mercury is substantially used by Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) to extract gold from gold ore, and this that this process exposes them to mercury poisoning and also pollutes the environment.

Artisanal and small scale gold mining is practised in Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, FCT, Kwara and Osun.

Dr Abdukadir Muazu, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, said this in Abuja at a workshop for National Comprehensive Analysis of Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining Sector.

The capacity building is aimed at supporting the development of National Action Plan for Reduction of Mercury Use/Emission in Nigeria.

According to Muazu, the Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and other stakeholders, are working together to ensure possible elimination of the use of mercury by artisanal miners across the country.

“It is, therefore, safe to say that Nigeria has more than insignificant use of mercury in (ASGM) operations,” he said.

He said the training and ASGM assessment project will improve national capacity and capability for the management of the mercury in the ASGM sector.

At the event, Mr Jean Bakole, Regional Director and Country Representative for Nigeria and ECOWAS, UNIDO Regional Hub Nigeria, said that artisanal and small scale gold mining are responsible for 37 per cent of the anthropogenic emission and releases of mercury into the environment.

Bakole, represented by Mr Yomi Banjo, environment expert, UNIDO, said that UNIDO has a history of working in the ASGM sector around the world and is implementing National Action Plan projects in several African countries.

“Our long standing cooperation with the Nigeria government to improve industrialisation and safeguard the environment is receiving another boost today.”

He congratulated the ministry for the sustainable structure put on ground for the sector, adding that UNIDO will support the ministry to achieve its goals.

Mr Patrick Ojeka, Director, Artisanal and Small-scale Mining of the ministry, said that Nigeria became a signatory to the Minimata Convention on Oct. 10, 2013, through the Ministry of Environment.

Ojeka said the ministry has been coordinating the activities preparatory to develop the country’s national action plan for the reduction of mercury use in Nigeria.

He said the treaty required member countries to carry out activities toward reduction in the use of mercury.

He said the workshop is aimed at building capacity in the ministry’s technical enumeration team such as MDAs, NGOs, Miners Association of Nigeria and other related stakeholders in specific special enumeration skills.

(TNE)

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