Nigeria: Govt Rolls Out National Action Plan for Mercury, Solid Waste Management

11 May 2021

In order to eliminate poisonous gaseous emission in the air, the Federal Government on Monday rolled out the National Action Plan (NAP) for the reduction and eventual elimination of mercury use in the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector of the country.

The government also⁰ unveiled the national policy on solid waste management and national policy on plastics waste management.

The roll outs were done in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) with the presentation of Nigeria's National Action Plan (NAP) on Mercury in the Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Sector (ASGM).

The NAP was successfully completed by the UNIDO, in collaboration with the Federal Ministries of Environment, Mines and Steel Development, Health and the World Health Organization, and it is an obligation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury to which is a signatory.

Speaking on the documents, UNIDO said it would chat a path to the future of gold mining and environmental sustainability in the country.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite, in his good will message at the event, said that NAP on Mercury in the Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) was a well articulated document which was put together based on baline data obtained from surveys of ASGM operators across the Nigeria gold mining belt.

He said the document was even more important as it had become a demonstration of the country's fulfilment of an important aspect of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

According to Adegbite, the NAP on Mercury in the ASGM sectors in Nigeria was developed to provide relevant information on the plans of the government to: "facilitate the improvement of the formalisation and regulation of ASGM sectors, promote reduction of emissions, release, and risk of exposure to mercury, manage trade and preventing diversion of mercury and mercury compounds."

He added that the document will involve stakeholders in the implementation and continuing development of the plan, and develop public health strategy on the exposure of artisanal and small-scale gold miners and their communities to mercury.

"The document also serves to promote the exposure of vulnerable populations, particularly children and women of child-bearing age, to mercury in ASGM; and providing information to artisanal and small-scale miners and affected communities."

The Minister, represented by the Director, Special Duties, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Yisao Adegboje, stressed the need for more collaboration and synergy to foster a more sustainable efforts to promote public health and the environment against the harmful effects associated with mercury release.

On his part, the Minister of Environment, Dr. Muhammad Abubakar said the documents would provide a veritable tool for making the environment clean.

Abubakar, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Abel Enitan, said: "Today's event is special and a big milestone because the development of the documents highlights the present administration's determination to ensure that Nigeria's current development priorities and objectives are focused on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."

He said the government was aware that there were numerous challenges preventing the effective growth of the mining and waste sectors.

Abubakar said: "For the mining sector, the challenges exist majorly around funding and attraction of new investments, security situation around mining sites, the preponderance of artisanal and illegal mining operations, attendant environmental pollution and insufficient modern mining infrastructure.

"Those prominent in the waste sectors are problems varying from poor funding, lack of policy, inadequate legislation, limited infrastructure, low level of awareness on best waste management practices, poor recovery and recycling programme, and disposal techniques."

He said to address these issues, the Federal Government of Nigeria was making concerted efforts to remove the barriers to the effective growth of these sectors, one of which is the development of these documents.

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