Abuja – The Federal Government said it spent N1.5 billion to reclaim 20 abandoned mine sites across the country from 2007 to 2014.
Mr Salim Adegbayega, the Acting Director, Mines, Environmental Compliance Department in the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, in Abuja said the ministry had planned to reclaim 100 sites effective from 2007 to 2020 across the country.
He said the ministry was able to reclaim 20 due to lack of fund for the project.
The acting director said four were reclaimed in 2007; six in 2008; two in 2009; three in 2010; one in 201; one in 2012 and three in 2014.
He said the reclaimed sites were located in Edo, Ebonyi, Plateau, Kano, Borno, Abia, Kaduna, Cross River, Bauchi and Nasarawa states.
He said the ministry had planned to reclaim eight sites annually within the period but due to lack of fund, it had been reclaiming less the targeted plan yearly and would reclaim three in 2015.
He said so far the government had identified 1,200 abandoned sites across the country and more would be identified, as the field surveys were still ongoing.
Adegboyega said Plateau had 732 abandoned mining sites; Bauchi State, 63; Narasawa State, 36; Borno, 33; Enugu State, two; Katsina State, two and Lagos State, four.
The acting director said N6 billion was budgeted to reclaim 100 sites effective from 2007 to 2020 at the average cost of reclaiming N60 million per site.
He said reclamation of a site could cost as high as N200 million and as low as N20 million, depending on the size of the site but on the average it was put at N60 million.
He said that mines’ reclamation was an expensive venture because the cost depended on size of a particular site and the distance of the place where the materials would be brought down to fill the mines and other factors.
“We reclaimed based on the environment statutes and the magnitude of danger the abandoned sites posed to the communities; those are the criteria we looked at.’’
He said it was impossible for the ministry to reclaim all the sites because some of the mining ponds were used for irrigation farming, fishing and water supply for domestic and industrial purposes.
Adegboyega said if mining ponds were found to be useful economically to the host communities and if its water was safe, the sites would not be reclaimed but those with high risks or hazards would be reclaimed.
He said mining sites were abandoned in the past because there were no laws stipulating that they should either be reclaimed or rehabilitated whenever they were no longer active.
He said according to the new environmental policy, any mineral title holder must reclaim the land before vacating a mining site.