The Federal Government is set to develop a National Action Plan (NAP) to reduce mercury use, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development Permanent Secretary, Dr Abdukadir Muazu, has said.
He made this known at a workshop on National Comprehensive Analysis of Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining Sector in Abuja.
The event was aimed at supporting the National Action Plan for Reduction of Mercury Use/Emission in Nigeria.
According to Muazu, the Ministries of Environment, and Mines and Steel Development and other stakeholders are working to eliminate the use of mercury by artisanal miners across the country.
He said mercury was used by Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) to extract gold from gold ore, adding that the process exposes them to mercury poisoning and also pollute the environment.
Muazu said artisanal and small scale gold mining was practised in over seven states – Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, Kwara and Osun- and the Federal Capaital Territory(FCT).
“It is, therefore, safe to say that Nigeria has more than insignificant use of mercury in (ASGM) operations,’’ he said.
He said the training and ASGM assessment project would improve national capacity and capability for the management of the mercury in the ASGM sector.
The Regional Director and Country Representative for Nigeria and ECOWAS, UNIDO Regional Hub Nigeria, Mr Jean Bakole, said artisanal and small scale gold mining was responsible for 37 per cent of the anthropogenic emission and releases of mercury into the environment.
Bakole, represented by Mr. Yomi Banjo, an environment expert with UNIDO, said the organisation has a history of working in the ASGM sector around the world and was implementing National Action Plan projects in several African countries.
“Our long-standing cooperation with the Nigeria government to improve industrialisation and safeguard the environment is receiving another boost today.’’
He congratulated the ministry for the sustainable structure put on ground for the sector, adding that UNIDO would support the ministry to achieve its goals.
The Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Director of the Mines and Steel Development mnistry, Mr. Patrick Ojeka, disclosed that Nigeria became a signatory to the Minimata Convention on October 10, 2013 through the Ministry of Environment.
Ojeka said the ministry had been coordinating the activities preparatory to developing the country’s national action plan for the reduction of mercury use in Nigeria.
He said the treaty required member countries to carry out activities to reduce in the use of mercury.
He said the workshop was aimed at building capacity in the ministry’s technical enumeration team such as MDAs, NGOs, Miners Association of Nigeria and other related stakeholders in specific special enumeration skills.