© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Mining community forces Dangote’s company to suspend operations over non-compliance with agreement
YOUTHS of Onupi Community, a coal-rich settlement in Ankpa Local Government Area, Kogi State, have forced Dangote Coalmine to stop mining operation in the area due to the firm’s non-compliance with the Community Development Agreement (CDA), The ICIR can report.
Alfa Stephen, Chairman of the Community Coal Mining Committee, told The ICIR that the firm was yet to fully vacate the site, but its workers have been prevented from operating since April 21.
“They have not totally moved out but they have shut down operations because they are not complying with the community development agreements,” Stephen said.
The community, he said, would uphold its decision until the firm honours the agreement signed by representatives from all the affected seven communities.
There are also growing concerns on the implication of abandoning the mine operated by the firm without possible reclamation for subsequent farming practice.
Dangote Coal Mine, one of the subsidiaries of the Dangote Group established on August 31, 2016, is owned by Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man.
The community development agreement contains obligations of the company to the host communities, some of which include the provision of health care facilities, primary school building, scholarships to students of the communities, among other terms agreed with the community.
Despite that Dangote had been mining in the communities years before the agreement was developed, its implementation was to commence three months from the date the new CDA was signed last April.
For instance, the construction of the primary school, according to the CDA, ought to have started in July 2019 while that of Primary Health Care Centre should have commenced five months from September 2019 when the agreement was signed.
The ICIR had earlier reported on illegalities of the Dangote’s firm which includes flouting Mining Act, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act, human rights abuses, and destruction of the ecosystem.
The two-part investigation by The ICIR exposed how the company falsified an EIA and presented it as an authentic copy to the rural community. It is expected that for any development to commence, the law says an EIA should be conducted to benchmark and mitigate the socio-environmental impacts to the host communities.
But, according to the locals in Onupi, managements of the coal mine should have started fulfilling their obligations since September 2019, but not a single block has been erected in the community at the time o this reporting.
The community chairman, who expressed worry on why it was difficult for the firm to satisfy their demands, cited an instance of a neigbouring community where a four-room Clinic had been at the foundation stage since March – a project he said could have been completed by the conglomerate.
“Dangote assured us in September last year that they would do their best to provide community borehole, community primary health care, and primary school,” a source said.
But that promise is yet unfulfilled, he said.
The source added that the youths got tired of the postponed promises, and decided to stop their work until they fulfill the promise.
The source, who pleaded for anonymity revealed that wastes from the mining site such as coal shells and muds have been washed onto the community farmlands, contaminating the land and destroying farm crops.
He raised an alarm that parts of the mine currently opened are already creating a gulf that endangers the lives of the residents.
“…If you visit now to see the un-mined areas, the coal has been washed to other areas…coal-water leaks have travelled more than two kilometers and damaged people’s farms. These people are not compensated by Dangote and it is dangerous to our health.”
There is information that the firm is considering moving to a new location in Otukpa Local Government Area, Benue State to commence similar coal mining activity.
The ICIR contacted Usman Jibrin, representative of the Dangote Group in Ankpa to verify why the CDA was dishonoured as claimed by the community, and if there is a plan to reclaim the mined areas after the excavation process, but he declined to comment.
“I will not talk to you. You need accreditation with my company,” Jibrin told The ICIR reporter when contacted.
“Your company wrote all sorts of nonsense and printed all sorts of nonsense before about Dangote Group. I hope you are not ready for another one?” he queried insisting that he won’t speak with the reporter.
The reporter further asked how The ICIR could be accredited to get the company’s response but he refused to comment further.