The Federal Government has charged mining operators in the country on environmental and human safety stressing the need to avoid contamination of water and degradation of the environment during mining operations.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi gave the charge during a tour of mining locations in Ebonyi State on Tuesday.

The Minister who was in company with the Minister of state For Mines and Steel Development, Hon Abubakar Bawa Bwari and Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi, visited the Royal Salt Lead and Zinc Processing site located at Enyigba community in Abakaliki and Nigerian Cement Company in Nkalagun.

Dr Fayemi said the Federal Government plans to make mining a win-win situation for the operators, the host communities and the state and federal government. He however, said government would not condone a situation where an operator would operate without taking into consideration environmental safety and sensibility to the host community.

The Minister who also harped on the need for cordial relationship between the mining companies and host communities as well as employment of locals, said while government would create the enabling environment, the mining companies must also compliment government efforts.

He said government is against a situation where jobs that could be done by Nigerians were given to expatriates, adding that they should set up training schemes to enable the Nigeria  workers acquire the needed technical expertise.

The Minister however lauded the management of Royal Salt for the huge number of Nigerians in its employment, urging it to ensure more Nigerians are employed.

He said the company had also submitted environmental protection plan to the ministry on how it would reclaim and protect the environment, adding that the ministry would monitor the whole processes to ensure no stone is left unturned.

Dr Fayemi appreciated the company for setting up a processing plant to process the  lead- zinc being exploited rather than exporting in raw form.

“One of the primary interest in the ministry’s roadmap is to increase the level of beneficiation and processing to ensure raw minerals are processed locally rather than exporting them.

“This will create jobs for the youth, which the company had taken step to employed over 400 Nigerians in the state,” he said.

The minister also charged the company to meet the demands of the host community and legitimate revenues being charged by the Federal and the state to ensure smooth operations of its business.

Governor Umahi lamented that the company had acquired 500 hectares of farm land for mining exploitation.

Umahi said the operations had devastated the state’s vegetation, ecosystem, adding that the state had not made revenue from the company.

He charged the company to meet up with all the obligations of its state and the host community to avoid loosing the land.

He also charged the Commissioner for Environment in the state to take water from the boreholes dogged by the company to a reputable laboratory to ascertain that it is free of lead.

Mr Vassu Gowda, the Project Manager of the company has assured the minister and the state government that its company would comply with all their terms and conditions.

The two ministers of the sector had embarked on a nationwide tour to all mine sites to build stakeholders confidence, get feedback from them, identify challenges and proffer solutions.

The ministers have so far visited seven states; Kaduna, Lagos, Ogun, Nasarawa, Benue, Enugu and Ebonyi state.