By Adetokunbo FAKEYE
Nigeria – The Minister of State for Environment, Dr Iziaq Kunle Salako has said there is a need for mining operations to be done in a sustainable manner so that the environment is not adversely affected.
Dr. Salako, who stated this while on Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, visit to Dangote Cement Plant, Ibese in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, pointed out that while mining sector has huge potential to develop the nation’s economy, many challenges are associated with its activities.
The Minister and his entourage, who were received by the Plant Management led the Plant Director, Mr. Azad Nawabuddin, described mining as one of the key industrial sectors that President Bola Tinubu’s administration has targeted for economic diversification as the nation embarks on gradual shift from oil and gas dependency.
He said it was for this reason that Dangote Cement should be commended for the huge cement plant which is creating jobs and opportunities for export.
Dr. Salako added that limestone mining activities, a key raw material in cement manufacturing is one such area that attention of the government is shifting to.
He then commended Dangote cement for its adherence to best practices, saying, “having gone round to see the operations in the plant, I give kudos to Dangote Cement for the automation and high technology-driven operations”.
He explained that his visit was not unconnected with the Environmental Impact Assessment, which is being done on the plant Coal Mill, noting “there is a need for mining operations to be done in a sustainable manner so that the environment is not adversely affected. But I applaud Dangote Cement for being at the forefront of promoting best practices”.
The Minister said further: “For us in the ministry of environment, it means we must also sit up. Mining as it comes with its advantages, also comes with its challenges. So, we must be up and doing, as we expand the economy and grow Nigeria. We should also do it in a sustainable manner so that the environment is not adversely affected.
“We must continue in that respect to ensure that best practices are always promoted, environmental and social impact assessments are properly carried out, the stakeholders are properly involved, and the environment is properly protected so that our growth can be sustainable. That’s why we are here and I am happy that Dangote is at the forefront of that”.
The Ogun State Commissioner for Environment, Ola Oresanya who represented the Governor, Dapo Abiodun said the state is a beneficiary of Dangote Cement presence with the amount of levies and taxes it has paid into the state coffer.
He called for a more collaboration between the state agencies and the company noting that the state was not unaware of the activities of the plant to lift its host communities. He added that the state would be mote than ready to assist the company in any way possible.
In his remark, Mr. Nawabuddin took the minister through the social investments and infrastructural milestones recorded by the Plant since inception, saying the Company has been able to substantially contribute to infrastructure development and employment in the host communities.
The Plant Director told the Minister that the plant deals with 17 host communities across Yewa North and Ewekoro Local Government Areas of the state, saying they have greatly felt the impacts of the company through empowerment programmes and provision of infrastructure.
Mr. Nawabuddin told his guests that Dangote Cement Ibese Plant has been a major contributor to economic diversification efforts of both the state and federal governments by creating jobs, exporting cement and clinker to neighbouring countries to attract foreign exchange into the country, and paying humongous taxes and levies to the state and federal government.
The Community engagement that held after the Minister’s tour of the plant also saw the communities’ leaders thanking Dangote Cement for its Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) projects so far for the people of Yewa.
The Olu of Imasayi, Oba Kuoye Olalekan, a top monarch in Yewaland expressed his subjects’ appreciation to Dangote Cement for its developmental strides in the area. “Dangote Cement is the transformer and illumination of Yewaland”, he stated.