Chinese company polluting water supply in FCT has no lease to mine gold – Minister

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Mohammed Bello, minister of the federal capital territory (FCT), says a Chinese mining company operating in the nation’s capital was not granted mining lease.

Speaking when he met with Suleiman Adamu, minister of water resources, on Tuesday, Bello said Hongao Mining Company Limited acted against Nigeria’s mining policy.

The company operates with water from a stream in Kutasa in Karshi area of the FCT under the protection of officers of the Nigerian police force.

The stream is the only water source for at least six communities in the area. The villagers, mostly farmers, said some of them drink from it.

A laboratory analysis carried out on the water confirmed that it is highly turbid and unfit for drinking.

In the analysis done at the FCT water board, Okobi O. Y. who signed the report on behalf of the general manager, said the “physio-chemical analysis shows high levels of turbidity, nitrate and iron” and that “water may need further treatment”.

Austine Akpuma, a director at Hongao, had admitted the company was using the water in washing excavated stones, but he gave security challenge as an excuse for not providing a borehole since they started operation in 2019.

Kenechukwu Offie, spokesman of the ministry of water resources, said in a statement that the two ministers and officials of the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission (NIWRMC) met in Abuja to discuss the development.

He said the FCT minister “noted with dismay that the company undertaking the mining activities in Kutasa Community was not granted lease to mine gold in that Community”.

On his part, Adamu told the session that he directed the NIWRMC to investigate the matter after he learnt of the development.

“The outcome of the investigation revealed that ‘Gold’ mining activities was taking place in that Community,” the statement added.

“Engr. Adamu said that the report from Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission indicated ‘a red flag’ to us that must not be allowed to fly further.

“Engr. Adamu, therefore, reiterated that the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, will not allow the experience of Niger State where people died of lead poisoning to repeat itself in FCT.

“The FCT Minister corroborated the Hon. Minister of Water Resources’s position that the various reports would need to be harmonised into a working document before they take up the matter with the Minister of Mines and Steel Development.”

NIWRMC had vowed to ensure that Hongao Mining Company Ltd provides an alternative water supply for the community after indicting the company for water pollution.

Magashi Bashir, executive director of NIWRMC, had said: “For us, in terms of integrated water resources management, a polluter pays. They have to go and clean that river or they pay for the cleaning of that river to come back to its original state. They have committed something and they are liable to it.”

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