The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) broke the news on Friday.
“The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA has sealed off a Chinese Gold Mining Company, Hongao Mining Company Limited located in Kutasa Community of the Abuja Municipal Area Council of the FCT for contaminating the water in the community,” the agency tweeted.
The company ruined the water source of at least six communities in Karshi.
Investigation showed how the company operated with water from a stream in Kutasa in Karshi area of the FCT, under the protection of officers of the Nigerian police force.
According to Correspondence report, the company was mining gold illegally, a claim Mohammed Bello, the FCT minister, later confirmed to be true.
The stream is the only water source for at least six communities in the area. The villagers, mostly farmers, said some of them drink from it.
A laboratory analysis carried out on the water confirmed that it was highly turbid and unfit for drinking.
In the analysis done at the FCT water board, Okobi O. Y. who signed the report on behalf of the general manager, said the “physio-chemical analysis showed “high levels of turbidity, nitrate and iron and that the water may need further treatment”.
Austine Akpuma, a director at Hongao, had admitted the company was using the water in washing excavated stones, but he gave security challenge as an excuse for not providing a borehole since they started operation in 2019.
After TheCable uncovered the operations of the mining company, many Nigerians condemned its actions, calling on relevant authorities, including the national assembly and the FCT authorities, to investigate the issue.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS SINCE THE COMPANY WAS EXPOSED
Since TheCable first published the report on July 7, various government agencies have taken steps in response to issues raised.
Below is a timeline of the events that followed:
- July 10 – The Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission (NIWRMC) commenced an investigation into the matter.
- July 14 – A federal government delegation visited the community to carry out an on-the-spot assessment.
- July 22 – NIWRMC said it found out the water supply was indeed polluted. The agency also said it had summoned the Chinese company to its office, and vowed to penalise them for the pollution.
- August 18 – Suleiman Adamu, minister of water resources, met with Mohammed Bello, FCT minister, to discuss the issue after receiving a brief from the NIWRMC. At the meeting, Bello confirmed the company was not granted a lease to mine gold in that community.
- August 27 – NESREA commenced an investigation into the issue after visiting the company’s operation site. It had said it took a water sample from the affected community for further analysis.
- September 25 – NESREA announces it has sealed off the company following its investigation.