From Maiharaji Altine Gusau
Zamfara state government in collaboration with Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without boarders) has organized a three-day workshop to develop an action plan for control and eradication of lead poisoning associated with artisanal gold mining and mineral processing in the state.
The workshop which was organized under the office of the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Kabiru Balarabe has 50 participants drawn from the three local government areas of Maru, Anka and Bukkuyum.
Speaking at the occasion, the Secretary to the state government, Alhaji Kabiru Balarabe said, the state government has taken some measures to prevent the reoccurrence of the painful experience of 2010 where atleast 700 children died as a result of the lead poisoning.
The Secretary who was represented at the occasion by the permanent Secretary, cabinet affairs, Lawal Husaini said the workshop would create awareness on the significance of safer mining practices and dangers of lead poisoning.
He said, “Taking into account, the multiple health issues associated with lead poisoning, the workshop will compliment the series of other efforts by both the Government and the Medicins Sans Frontieres in creating awareness on the significance of on the significance of safer mining practices and the dangers of lead poisoning which is often linked to arsenal mining”.
He added that, “In the end, an action plan will also be developed to guide artisanal mining and mineral processing in the state”.
The Secretary said, “The state government has taken some measures to prevent the reoccurrence of the painful experience of 2010′ notably organising the artisanal miners into mining cooperatives as a step towards the formalisation of their activities in line with the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act 2007 and the Mining Regulations 2011”.
He however expressed disgust that even though some of the miners have agreed to organize and operate within cooperatives, majority of them still operated without any formal structure like that of cooperatives.
“This poses the danger of unsafe mining practices and makes it difficult for the government to taget this category of miners with any policy aimed at promoting their personal safety and well-being”. Said the Secretary.
The Secretary added that, as the Federal Government has suspended mining activities in the state, it would be expected that by the time the ban was lifted, every artisanal miner who did not join any cooperative would do so.
“This is not just for their own personal safety and that of their communities, but also in the interest of advancing their career”.
He concluded that, Governor Bello Matawalle was committed to maximizing the state’s potentials in mining through inviting investors into the sector and promoting safer mining practices among the artisans.
In his presentation, the lead poisoning Coordinator, Benjamin Janeiro MWANBOMBE who stood in for the Medicins Sans Frontieres explained the dangers of the lead poisoning and how it could be controlled and eradicated.
He urged the participants to make the best use of the workshop in order to educate their respective communities.