The Federal Government says it is working assiduously to develop a National Action Plan to reduce the use of Mercury in Nigeria.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Abdukadir Muazu, said this in Abuja at a workshop for National Comprehensive Analysis of Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining Sector.
The capacity building was 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.
He said that mercury was substantially used by Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining to extract gold from gold ore, adding that this process exposed them to mercury poisoning and also pollute the environment.
Muazu said that Artisanal and small-scale gold mining was practised in over seven states, Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, FCT, Kwara and Osun.
“It is, therefore, safe to say that Nigeria has more than the insignificant use of mercury in (ASGM) operations,’’ he said.
He said the training and ASGM assessment project would 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 was 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 had a history of working in the ASGM sector around the world and was 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 the ground for the sector, adding that UNIDO would 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 had 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 the reduction in the use of mercury.
He said the workshop was 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.