… Illegal Mining Company Ordered
Committed to the discharge of the Environmental Security and Internal Security mandates of their respective ministries, the Hon. Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources, Chief Uno Etim Uno, and his Ministry of Internal Security counterpart, Brigadier General Koko Essien (retd), today Monday, August 28, 2023 embarked on an unscheduled inspection tour of a Chinese-owned mining company, Ruitai Mining Company, in Esuk Ikim Akeme community, Ibeno LGA.
The joint ministerial inspection team which also included the Permanent Secretary of MEMR, Iquo Abia, Esq on arriving Ibeno community, was conducted around the mining site by the Chairman of Ibeno LGA, High Chief Williams Mkpa.
Inspecting the site located near Ibeno beach, black clay-like minerals contained in sack bags of 50kg, and described by the miners as Titanium Ore, were uncovered.
On critical examination of the site amidst tight security, the Managing Directors of the company, Zeng Zhonghuan and Huang Ying, both Chinese, were not found at site, but the inspection team through an interpreter, Alex, later discovered that the mining operation which has reportedly spanned over 9-month period, is illegal as such license can only be issued to Nigerians, as local contents law permits.
At end of the inspection tour, the following anomalies were uncovered about the operations of the company, namely:
* The company, Ruitai Mining Company, is purely an exploration company
* Ruitai Mining Company’s Board of Directors comprises only Chinese. So technically speaking, it is by local contents law not eligible to acquire the Small-scale Mining License as claimed
* The Company has neglected Environmental Impacts Assessment (EIA) in its mining operations.
* It has grossly violated the State Environmental Management Plan (EMP), among others.
As the MDs of the Company were not found for clarification of the anomalous issues, the team therefore resolved as follows:
* That Ruitai Mining Company should terminate its mining operations forthwith, until due clearance legitimizing its operations is completed with the State Government.
* That the Company should approach Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources(MEMR) with all papers authorizing its operations, with full coordinate of the area approved for its mining operations.
* That all security operatives should be withdrawn from the mining site, while the DPO of Ibeno LGA, SP Victor Ezekwu, should enforce the directive in order to ensure strict compliance.
* That Ruitai Mining Company is given today Monday, August 28 to Friday, August 1, 2023 within which timeframe it should comply with the stipulated directives, as non- compliance will attract stiff sanctions from Akwa Ibom State Government.
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Those in the inspection team also included the Director – Mineral Resources, Mrs. Emem Ibokette; Director – Flood and Erosion Control, Mr. Okon Udo; even as the Chapter Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Miners Association, Mr. Iyakise Udofia, who volunteered relevant disclosures, was also at the location.