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Minister warns mining companies for not protecting environment

By Morris Dogga

The National Minister of Mining, Gabriel Thokuj Deng has warned that licenses of mining companies that does not protect the environment will be revoked.

Addressing participants during the opening of a  three-day’s workshop on extractive industries sustainability yesterday, Deng said his ministry is aware that there are some companies involved in the mining sector that are profit minded, but do not care about environmental degradation.

Deng said soon the Ministry will deal with the companies that are business minded and are causing destruction to the environment.

“The Ministry has provisions in the laws; you (companies) comply with the laws, you are our brothers and our friends,” he said.  “You don’t comply; you are not part of us. We will revoke your licenses and actually I am quick to do this according to the law,” minister Deng said.

“He said the ministry will keenly follow the laws, and ensure all small scale and large scale mining companies follow the laws.

However, Deng did not mention how soon the ministry will take the actions against the companies.

The minister said it does not matter how much profit is generated from mining if immediate actions are not taken to prevent environmental degradation, it will be very difficult for the government to assess the damages of mining.

The Country representative of UN Environment (UNEP) South Sudan, Arshad Khan said there are already serious health issues in the oil exploration areas amidst reports that there are some deformed births as well as skin diseases.

He called on the government to implement the Petroleum and Mining Acts of 2012, and monitor the oil companies so that effects of environmental degradation on the local communities are minimized.

Khan said the mistake of the oil spills in the Niger delta area in Nigeria should not happen in South Sudan.

He said what happened in Nigeria now requires billions of dollars to clean up the oil spills and the contamination.

The workshop was organized by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) on ensuring environmental safeguards in petroleum and mining.

The Chief of Party and deputy country director for WCS South Sudan Programme, Michael Lopidia said the fact that petroleum and mining are key to the economic development of the country; the activity should be conducted in such a way that other natural resources are taken care of.

The Mining Act 2012 was endorsed by President Salva Kiir to encourage, promote and facilitate reconnaissance, exploration, development and production of Minerals and Mineral Products in consistent with the principles of sustainable development in the country.

It requires that decisions respecting the economy and mining activities be integrated with decisions respecting protection and management of the Environment.

 

 

 

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