CSOs seek harmonised law to protect mining communities

The West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) has called for harmonisation of policies and laws to protect communities living in mining sites.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the General Secretary, Komlan Messie, made this call at the opening of the Civil Society Workshop on Mining and Mining Development Act in Abuja.

According to him, the ECOWAS Mineral Development Policy (EMDP) recognises the need for strategic shifts in the role of mining in the transformation of West Africa’s economy.

He noted that harmonisation of institutional, legislative and regulatory frameworks would help in the enhancement of effective environmental protection of mining activities.

“West Africa has one of the nest resources in the world, but citizens have not seen the economic impact of those mining resources in our countries.

“This is due to some imbalance. It is important for governments to balance this through domestic resources mobilisation and to have a harmonised mining code, so that the population benefits from it.”

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He said there was the need for safe mining processes, adding that conditions of mining activities have larger impact on women and others who depend on it for survival.

According to him, the environmental, economic impact of mining should be taken into account, protection of these sites should be a priority, especially by ensuring that environmental impact assessment is taken into account.

Messie said continuous enhancement of human and technological capacity would promote a sustainable and integrated development in local communities.

While calling on mining companies to mainstream Corporate Social Responsibility in local development plans, Messie said this would assist in promotion and respect of human rights in all mineral development activities.

He urged participants to carefully consider amendments both in substance and form to the entire draft mining document as presented and build consensus on the articles contained in the texts.

Mr Augustine Niber, Centre for Public Interest Law, stressed the need to promote human rights, transparency, social equity and provide protection for local communities and the environment in mining areas.

He also called for adherence to high standards of accountability and transparency for mining companies and government agencies, to reduce corruption and promote global best practices.

“There is the need to provide incentives for investors and protect the revenue base and country resources.

“We must improve transparency in mineral policy formulation and implementation processes in mining within the sub region.”

Already adopted is an ECOWAS Mineral Development Policy and its implementation, which outlines some major activities to be undertaken by the Commission and Member States to develop the mineral sector in the region.