Three communities in Osun state Igun Atakumosa, iperindo and Itagumodi have lamented the deep environmental degradation and poverty mining is causing to their communities.
The communities cried out with the support of Global Rights Nigeria paid a visit to assess the impact of mining in the state.
The community secretary to Igun Atakumosa, Adegbayibi Adenigbabe lamented “the huge environmental risks, poverty, health challenges and hopelessness mining has brought to their community”
According to Adenigbagbe “mining has robbed our community of its only source of drinking water, agricultural lands and produce and degraded the environment such that our community is at risk of an earthquake, landslide and a flooding at best.
“The government has destroyed our land, they have destroyed our farms and have refused to give us compensation” he said
The community secretary added that “While the community is blessed with abundant natural resources, particularly in the area of agriculture (cocoa farming) and mineral resources with abundant gold deposits, the community is no doubt a looming natural disaster waiting to happen as deep open wells and mining channels have led to the collapse of many economic trees and agricultural produce”.
Igun Atakumosa is said and seen to have over 3000 open mining pits and 9 mining ponds with contaminated water which serves no good for human consumption or agricultural purposes. Sadly the pits are still counting revealed and showed fresh mining pits which had been dug in the past 1 week.
Also visible are the collapsed,collapsing or cracking grounds,sinking trees caused as a result of the activities of underground mining.
Sad as this may be, this is the story of mining communities all over the nation,even when efforts are made to compensate them,the environment is never returned to its natural state which is often destroyed aside the lives lost.
The death of over 700 children in the Zamfara gold mining incidence of 2000 is never to be forgotten and also the recent deaths of 28 children in Niger state is not to be forgotten,but far from this could be a more drastic effect to unsafe mining and that will be when Climate change comes into play.
A negative impact mining has on the environment is environmental degradation as a result of poor or non remediation of mined deposit sites,it then leaves the environment to the risk of flooding,erosion and other natural disasters.
Unfortunately Nigeria because of the incessant activities of illegal miners has large areas of unremediated sites which makes such environments disasters waiting to happen(aside the fact that such sites are lost to agriculture for the provision of food and the fight against hunger).
The impact is that subsequently communities continue to loose large agricultural lands to the effect of mining and with the gradual impact of climate change, subsequently, loose this lands to natural causes such as flooding, erosion and even volcanic eruptions at the worse of times (Thank God Nigeria as a nation has been spared the worst of natural disasters,but the flooding debacle which visited several states in 2014 is not soon to be forgotten)
Wikipedia defines Climate change as a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e., decades to millions of years).
Climate change may also refer to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather around longer-term average conditions (i.e., more or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions.
In 2015 the rains were a little delayed and this is according to scientists is as a result of the climate changing.
So while climate change has impact on the weather primarily,the secondary effects are compounded by the effects to the environment of which mining plays a big role.
Other human activities have also been identified as significant causes of recent climate change, often referred to as “global warming”,one of these effects according to participants at an Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) media Round table could be the effect of mining on the environment.
As a means to addressing this menace, one of the 16 goals of the SDGs which took off on January 1 2016 is to take action to combat climate change and its impact,which undeniably the practice of safer mining practices can promote.
In the 2030 Agenda for the SDGs, it says as a means to combating the effect of climate change,”governments can strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate related hazards and natural disasters”. It is therefore important that government begins to raise awareness on the impact unsafe mining can have on the environment.
The fact that remediation can reduce the risks of natural disaster makes it imperative that drastic measures must be taken to protect the environment particularly in mining communities to ensure such disasters are averted.
As such it is time the government of the day rise up to its responsibilities of educating the people,raising awareness and raising awareness on human,institutional capacity on climate change mitigation,adaptation,impact reduction and early warning.
This can be done through creating awareness on the need to practice safer mining and ensure mining sites and communities are properly re mediated,particularly in rural communities.
Keying to the United Nations SDG program which Nigeria is a signatory to,is one way of ensuring the sector plays its role in not just ensuring safe mining but of protecting the environment.