By Okey Emmanuel
The Cross River State Government has acquired lime stone, quarry and mining licenses, and is ready to set up quarries in the three Senatorial districts of the State.
The disclosure was made by the State Commissioner for Natural Resources, Hon. George O’ben-Etchi in an exclusive interview with CrossRiverWatch TV.
His words: “Lucky for us we’ve been able to secure two exploration licenses for lime stone exploration which is also going to enable us set up our permanent plants. We have also been able to acquire mining and quarry licenses which will enable us as a State to look for partners to partner with us in setting up quarries in the Central, North and Southern Senatorial districts of the State.
“We have issues of people whose licenses have expired but are still working and people who are mining outside their authorized location. Issues like that are what we identify and try to take to the center to say this is wrong. Very soon we are also going to be recommending the prosecution of anybody who has a valid license for a particular location and is moving to another location to mine, it’s against the law, totally against the 2007 Solid Mineral Development Act and the 2011 Minerals Regulation Act. We are also taking steps as we speak to register artisan miners”.
“Before this Ministry was created Cross River State has never benefited from any grants and so we felt that in Okpoma for instance we have women who are involved in local salt mining. We also have people who are involved in sand mining, crushing of lime stone with hammer in their hands. If we are able to put together ten of this people from different households and put them together as a Cooperative then we can write to the Federal Government to say please can you assist these people and there are funds provided not just by the Federal Government but agencies all over the world”.
Adding that: “We can’t have the vast resources that we have and not play key role in that sector. So what this Ministry is trying to do basically is to ensure that we harness our resources to the best of our abilities and also become stakeholders and players in the solid minerals sector. When we came in we found out that a lot of our solid minerals, people had acquired licenses, covered them and gone out to look for investors who will buy those things over from them and make millions of naira, it expires they renew those licenses without taking cognizance of the fact that the law provides a time limit between when you get your license and when you ought to start setting things on ground though no one checks all of that”.
Assuring that, “We will be collaborating with the mining office and of course the Federal mining office, Ministry of Solid Minerals at the center and working with the man at the cadastral office to ensure that all these kind of things is eliminated”.
According to him, issues of Corporate Social Responsibilities will be properly taken into consideration. “The issue of Corporate Social Responsibility is not an issue for company alone; it’s an issue for the community. Before you write a CDA (Community Development Agreement), the community and the company will seat; the community will say these are the things we think you can do for us and the company will say these are also what we think we can do for you then the community will put the agreement into place. Now if you have a community that other than seek to enforce the CDA is satisfied with the peanuts for instance, cases where you have chiefs who prefer to take snuff from these companies, When you have such scenario you cannot blame the company, the company will always look for a way to exploit the people, and it is for the people to be able to say no this is what we believe. Cooperate Social Responsibility has to do with those infrastructures that the communities need”.
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