Background of the Study

Environmental Impact

Illegal mining has several environmental and health problems. Several accidents have occurred, and, in some cases, this has led to many deaths in the mines when the ground caved in on miners. There are also health serious impact resulting from pollution from gases, noise, dust and polluted water. Water pollution from mine waste rock and tailings may need to be managed for decades, if not centuries, after closure. The impacts depend on a variety of factors, such as the sensitivity of local terrain, the composition of minerals being mined, the type of technology employed, the knowledge, ability to monitor and enforce compliance with environmental regulations.

The Charity Organisation – Safe Drinking Water Foundation explain that Sulphuric acid is utilized in the mining operations which drain into the water bodies, and adversely affect ground water. According to Safe Drinking Water Foundation there are four main types of mining impacts on water quality: (1) Acid Mine Drainage (sulphuric acid is produced when sulphides in rocks are exposed to air and water).  (2) Heavy Metal Contamination & Leaching (pollution caused when such metals as arsenic, cobalt, copper, cadmium, lead, silver and zinc contained in excavated rock or exposed in an underground mine come in contact with water). (3) Processing Chemicals Pollution (occurs when chemical agents such as cyanide or sulphuric acid spill, leak, or leach from the mine site into nearby water bodies. These chemicals can be highly toxic to humans and wildlife. (4) Erosion and Sedimentation – excessive sediment can clog riverbeds and vegetation, wildlife habitat and aquatic organisms.

The movements of rock in the case of surface mining impact the land negatively. Craters left in the sites where mining activities took place destroy the landscape. Other impacts include erosion, formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity, contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water and deforestation (due to increases in the levels of Carbon Dioxide in the air). More so, leakage of Chemicals into the environment adversely affects the health of the local population, farming, fishing, if not controlled.

Socio-economic Impact

For many years, Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta (South-South region of Nigeria) has become the scene of repeated armed clashes among residents, dissident groups and the military and police due to legal and illegal mining activities taking place in the region. The fighting has claimed many lives and sporadically disrupted the country’s main crude oil export sector. The unrest has been stoked by popular frustrations over poverty, water and soil pollution and environmental degradation. In several communities across West Africa, the exploitation of minerals such as cobalt, col-tan, cassiterite, diamond, gold, and copper has often resulted to violent conflicts in the areas where these resources are mined (Anyika, 2019). And this is part of the problem; since the collapse of Libya, guns have flooded into West Africa, most of them ending up in Nigeria (BBC, 2018). The death rate across central and southern Nigeria averaged more than 2,000 a year between 2011 and 2016 (BBC, 2018).

The dimension of the challenges is varied and spread across many locations. The lingering crisis between the people of Enyigba in Abakaliki Local Government Area, Amana (Ezza local Government) and Ndiegu Enyibichiri in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi state bordered on land dispute and mining site struggles and quarrels (Vanguard, 2018). The artisanal mining of gold activities in Zamfara State and its environs have led to 1000s of people been killed or kidnapped by the bandits every year. Unregulated mining in rural Jos (northern Nigeria) is causing blindness and paralysis among children and making adults infertile (Guardian, 2014). Abandoned mines endanger communities (e.g. Sabon-Barki community and Gyel District, both in Jos South LGA of Plateau State). These are the some of the problems associated with illegal mining.

Aim of the Study

The study aims to study the trend, statistics of illegal mining and access the impact on local communities, livelihood and map the associated environmental challenges. These maps are non-available from the government statistics and database. It is hoped that this will enable guide policies towards controlling and mitigating the impacts of illegal mining.

Research Method

Field work, surveys, interviews are employed to generate adequate information and map the trend.

Policy Implications

It is hoped that this study will enable stakeholders, government, mining companies and public to understand the underlying causes, consequences of illegal mining but also propose measures to address the associated human losses and deaths that result from mining activities, communal clashes and sites accidents.

To cite this document: African Development Institute of Research Methodology (2020), Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.1-2

Anyika, V. O. (2019). Mineral Riches and Violent conflicts in Nigeria: an appraisal of mining conflicts in Ebonyi State. paper presented at the 13th Annual International Conference of the Society for Peace Studies and Practice, Redeemer’s University Ede, Osun State, 7 November 2019

BBC News (2018). Crossing Divides: Can Nigeria’s new tin mine heal ancient wounds? 25 April 2018.

Guardian (2014). Nigerian gold mining: farmers choose death by lead poisoning over poverty. 17 March 2014.

The Safe Drinking Water Foundation – Mining and Water Pollution. MINING AND WATER POLLUTION FACT SHEET.

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