An expert on mineral exploration and exploitation, Engr Abel Ozigi on Friday says Kogi State Government loses over N240 billion yearly through illegal mining activities in the state.

Engr Ozigi who is the Senior Special Assistant to Kogi State Governor on Project Liaison and Management made this known in Lokoja while presenting a paper during a maiden stakeholders’ meeting organised by Kogi State Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO).

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He said apart from “unquantifiable economic loss”,  non-compliance to labour law, environmental degradation and avoidable communal conflicts which in most cases lead to death are some of the reasons why relevant authorities ought to expediently rise to seek lasting solution to illegal mining activities.

“Pollution from mining and related activities has a detrimental impact on the environment. For example, when illegal miners use liquid mercury to extract gold without the proper equipment. The mercury is released as effluents into rivers and contaminates the aquatic bodies which either dies or are eventually consumed by humans.

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“The effect of this is mercury poisoning which leads to several health challenges such as infertility, urinary tract infection, leukemia and heart related diseases among few”, he lamented.

Earlier, the chairman of Kogi State MIREMCO, Hajia Hassiat Ozavize Suleiman explained that though mining and mineral resources are on the exclusive list of the Federal Government, the committee was established to act as synergy between Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, state, local government areas, mineral title holders and host communities.

She solicited the support of all stakeholders to actualise the committee’s objectives, parts of which are disputes arbitration and signing of Community Development Agreements between companies and host communities.

The MIREMCO chairman lauded the Kogi State Government for the provision of take off grant, utility vehicle and secretariat from which the committee carries out its activities since 2017 when it was inaugurated.

She also called for more funding to allow committee actualise some of its outlined activities in 2019 and beyond.