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FG indicts Chinese mining company for water pollution in FCT

FG indicts Chinese mining company for water pollution in FCT
July 22
09:09 2020

The federal government through the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission (NIWRMC) has confirmed the pollution of water supply by a Chinese company operating in the nation’s capital.

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Magashi Bashir, executive director of NIWRMC, said the agency found out that the level of contamination of the water supply done by Hongao Mining Company Limited is “high”.

TheCable had reported how the company, which was being protected by officers of the Nigerian police force, operated with the water from a stream in Kutasa.

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.

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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 in an interview with TheCable admitted they were 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.

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Speaking to TheCable in Abuja on Tuesday, Bashir said the government delegation that visited the community found out that the water source has been contaminated as a result of the sand and mud from the mining site.

He added that the site should have been located far from the path of the stream, and that the government has begun steps to ensure that Hongao company sees to the purification of the water.

The ED, who is a mining engineer, also said NIWRMC met with the management of the Chinese company and he gave the assurance that the agency is working to address the issue.

“Of course, the water source has been polluted … the level of contamination is high because you can see that the river has been diluted. But this is sand and mud that has gone into the river,” he said.

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“What we saw at Karshi, gold is being mined, and gold mining is associated with a lot of things. I want to assure you that the government is really doing something on this particular issue as it regards the pollution of the water source.

“When we got to the village, we found out they have community social responsibilities which they signed with the chiefs of those villages including drilling boreholes and renovating their schools. 

“The borehole is not working and they said they intend to put it in place. But that is not to say nothing will be done regarding the river that is polluted.

“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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Bashir said the government is worried about the threat of lead poisoning as was the case in Zamfara where residents were poisoned in the course of gold mining.

“I am not really sure that they introduced anything, but like I said, our fear is that lead or any poisonous substance can come into the water. If that happens, then there is a threat to life,” the executive director said.

“But the threat has already been done to the water body which has been polluted; this is the first threat. And the community cannot use it.”

After TheCable uncovered the operations of the mining company, many Nigerians condemned its actions, calling on relevant authorities including the national assembly and the FCT authorities to investigate the issue.

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