By Jovitta Iorshase
The Benue State government has suspended gold mining activities and exploration of other mineral resources in Kwande Local Government Area, by Universal Treasure Mines Limited and others, over failure to regularize their mining licences with the state government.
According to information availed The Voice by Mr Jacob Suswam, the Media Assistant to the Executive Chairman, Benue State Internal Revenue Service (BIRS), Mrs Mimi Azape-Orubibi, when the licences regularization is properly done, it would earn the state the statutory 13% derivation mineral revenue constitutionally guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.
“The Benue state government is constitutionally guaranteed a 13% revenue earnings from all mining businesses going on in the state and other taxes, especially from those legally licensed by the federal government, hence the need for the companies to properly document and regularize their mining license with the state government,” the statement read.
According to the statement, the suspension order was given to the companies on April 16, 2022 during an on the spot assessment and inspection visit to some mining sites at Ugugu and Agunogo in Ikyurav-Ya, Kwande LGA.
The statement further stated that Mrs Azape-Orubibi also expressed concerns on the environmental impact of mining activities on the host communities, as there is no certification of environmental impact assessment carried out to guide the operation of the mines and its evacuation processes and the reclamation of the sites after exploration.
The chairman stressed that, besides the need to earn 13% revenue from the mining activities, the state government owes her citizens the responsibility of supervising the operations and activities of the miners to guard against negative impact of the environment, hence the need to get technical experts in the state involved, in order to regulate the miners’ activities, as well as safeguard the environment.
She vowed to visit mining sites located in other local government areas where exploration is being done, to enable the service gather accurate data that will assist the state government regulate miners’ activities and block all revenue leakages as a result of the ongoing illegal mining activities.
At one of the mining sites, operated by Universal Treasures Mines Limited, the company representative, Engr Emmanuel Awakere revealed that, the company was licensed by the Federal Government to mine gold in the community, but admitted that it was yet to regularize its documentation with the state government.
He promised to comply with the directive of the chairman and do the necessary documentation.
A member of the community who gave his name as Ayatse Fidelis Atema, narrated that, the company with other individuals, who usually come from outside the state have been carrying out the mining activities in the community and other surrounding communities for the past three years with no one to stop them.
He added that the company promised to construct blocks of classrooms for the school in the community, drill a borehole for them and also construct a council hall for the traditional rulers but were yet to fulfill the promises.
Miners at other sites visited all ran away on sighting the BIRS team.