UYO, Nigeria — The Akwa Ibom State Government has shut down Ruitai Mining Company, a Chinese firm, for illegal mining of titanium ore in the oil-rich Ibeno Local Government Area.
The closure comes just two weeks after another Chinese company was closed for operating in a residential zone and releasing toxic gases into the environment.
Etim Uno, the State Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources, announced the closure on Monday, August 28, 2023, during a press briefing with the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Akwa Ibom State Council.
According to Uno, his ministry conducted an unscheduled inspection tour on Monday, August 28, 2023, in collaboration with the Ministry of Internal Security.
The inspection took place at the Ruitai Mining Company’s operations in the Esuk Ikim Akeme community, Ibeno local government area.
“The inspection team discovered black clay-like minerals contained in 50kg sack bags, described by onsite workers as Titanium Ore,” Uno disclosed. “Neither the Managing Director nor the Director of the company, Zeng Zhonghuan and Huang Ying, were present, and the staff members could not provide any documentation or information about the operation.”
The Commissioner outlined several violations discovered during the inspection:
- The company is an exploration company and does not have a Small-scale Mining License, contrary to its claim.
- The Board of Directors comprises only Chinese nationals, thus making it ineligible to acquire a Small-scale Mining License.
- The company has neither conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, for its mining operations nor submitted an Environmental Management Plan, EMP.
“As a result of these violations, the government has decided to terminate the mining operations of Ruitai Mining Company, pending when it legitimizes its operations,” Uno stated.
The Akwa Ibom government’s decisive action reflects growing concerns about the environmental and social impacts of foreign firms operating in Nigeria.
The lack of compliance with local laws and regulations is not only a legal issue but also threatens sustainable development and community well-being.
Experts say that the illegal mining of Titanium Ore can have severe environmental consequences, including soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and contamination of water sources.
This incident underscores the importance of stringent oversight in ensuring mining operations comply with environmental and legal standards.