Environment Protection

Enugu State: Coal Mining Company, Milhouse Energy to Pay 1Billion Naira “Agreement” for Violations

A coal mining firm, Milhouse Energy Services Ltd, operating in Awhum, Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State will pay N1bn into the State Environmental Remediation Trust Fund.

The firm will also pay N100,000 tax per truckload of coal evacuated from the Awhum mining site. This is according to a statement on Wednesday by the State’s governments office.

Recall that the state government had sealed the mining sites last month, citing environmental degradation, tax evasion and lack of official approval and monitoring as reasons.

Addressing newsmen after a first-hand inspection of mining activities at the site where various infringements occured- ranging from environmental degradation, non-remittance of staff and pensions taxes after deduction among others- Prof. Ugwu said the government would not fold its hands and watch the environment destroyed and lives engendered.

“Our mission is basically to seal, on behalf of the state government, mining activities that do not have any recourse to the state government. We are also here to look at what is going on and you have all seen a lot of environmental degradation going on.

“We equally want to see the veracity of the license, which they claim they have and to find out how they have been remitting their environmental fees to Enugu State Government.

“Importantly, want to find out the mitigating plans they have in place. We are very much interested in what happens to these host communities and their environs many years after these miners have closed shop because if you take a look at the Niger Delta, the people are still suffering greatly from environmental degradation caused by oil exploration activities of many decades ago.

“Enugu powered the industries of Europe and beyond at some point through this same coal. Today, our environment is still bearing the scars and brunt of those mining activities. So, we will not fold our hands and watch that happen all over again”.

He faulted the claim by the operators of the mine that they started mining activities at the site in 2022, saying “from all indications, this site has been in operation for more than five years”.

He said government was very much aware of other mining sites in different parts of the state operating illegally and without license or running foul of environmental protection laws and regulations, assuring that “government is coming after all of them”.

An Enugu State High Court had also granted an interim injunction restraining Milhouse Energy Services and African Pits & Quarries Ltd, from “carrying on further activities, environmental degradation, damaging and interfering in whatsoever manner with the large expanse of land situated at Ibite Awhum.”

However, the government said it has now reached agreement with the mining company to recommence operations This will come as a relief, as hundreds of youths from the area and other parts of the state were employed as workers in the mining site.

SOURCE: Daily Independent

IMAGE: 042 Connect

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