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The environmental implication of illegal mining activities in Nigeria, a case study of Pandogari and Barkin Ladi/Buruku surface mines in Niger/plateau states

IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science (IOSR-JHSS)
Volume 13, Issue 5 (Jul. - Aug. 2013), PP 13-19
e-ISSN: 2279-0837, p-ISSN: 2279-0845.
www.Iosrjournals.Org 13 | Page
The Environmental Implication of Illegal Minning Activities in
Nigeria, a Case Study of Pandogari and Barkin Ladi/Buruku
Surface Mines in Niger/Plateau States.
Dukiya J. Jaiye
Abstract: Illegal mining is one of the biggest problems with regard to environmental destruction and
ecological disruptions. When large numbers of gem seekers and gold diggers converge on a locality and begin
their environmentally hostile mining activities in an uncontrollable manner, they cause untold destruction to
mother earth, which is often accompanied by pollution of the soil and rivers (with mercury and cyanide in the
case of gold diggers). Legal measures have proved totally inappropriate as a means of control, because the
form of mining involved requires very little equipment that are highly mobile, hence providing them good
chances of evading control. Moreover, supervision becomes nearly impossible when large numbers of such
people converge on an area and are willing to use force in defense of their interests. Consequently, damage to
the physical and biological environment is accompanied by pronounced social tensions between the various
interest groups. This paper presents a critical analysis of illegal mining activities, their environmental effect
and remedial measures.
I. Introduction.
Surface mining is the term used to describe diverse forms of raw-material extraction from near-surface
deposits. It involves the complete removal of nonbearing surface strata (overburden) in order to gain access to
the resource. Depending on the physical characteristics of the raw material and on the site-specific situation,
various surface-mining techniques are applied including dry extraction of loose or solid raw materials. In hard-
rock mining, the product must first be "worked" (loosened) then it can be loaded, hauled and processed by
mechanical means similar to those employed in loose-rock mining.
Surface mines vary in size according to the nature of the deposit and the employed techniques of
extraction. Among terrestrial workings, one encounters mines ranging in size from small one-man operations to
huge strip mines measuring several kilometers in diameter. Virtually all surface mining activities have one or
several forms of environmental implications that vary in magnitude of severity in the short or long run. Table 1
gives general forms of surface mining and their main environmental impacts whether in the short or long run.
Table 1 - Forms of surface mining and their main environmental impacts (GTZ,1995)
Earths’ sphere
dry extraction
wet extraction
deep-sea mining
earth's surface
areal devastation;
altered morphology:
danger of falling rocks
at the faces; destruction
of cultural assets
morphology and
river course;
formation of
large dumps
coastal erosion
noise; percussions from
blasting; dust formation
due to traffic, blasting,
wind; smoke and fumes
from self-ignited dumps;
blast damp, noxious
gases; vibrations
noise due to
processing and
exhaust gases
noise, exhaust
noise, exhaust
surface water
altered nutrient levels
pollution by
wastewater; pollution
by aggravated erosion
burdening of
recipient with
large quantities
of muddy
pollution by
The Environmental Implication Of Illegal Minning Activities In Nigeria, A Case Study Of Pandogari 14 | Page
recession of
deterioration of
groundwater quality
level; altered
denudation in the
extraction area; loss of
(agric.) yield, dryout,
ground sag, danger of
swamping due to local
groundwater recovery,
soil erosion
denudation in
the worked area
deterioration of
nutrient content
of seafloor
Table 1. continues
destruction in worked
area; partial
destruction/alteration in
surrounding area due to
altered groundwater
destruction in
the worked area
expulsion of fauna
expulsion of fauna
destruction of
marine life
destruction of
marine life
land-use conflicts;
induced settlement,
destruction of recreation
conflicts; social
conflicts in
boom times;
impaired fishing
(destruction of
impaired fishing
(destruction of
water damage due to
groundwater recovery
potential modification of
modification of
growth of
pathogens in
still-water areas
Surface mining operations are inherently bed-bound, their size and location are determined by the
given geological conditions of the bedding and associated strata. And since major disruption of the earth's
surface is unavoidable in connection with surface mining operations, the question of tolerability under the
prevailing conditions must be given due consideration prior to the commencement of any extractive processes.
But this is totally absent in the case of illegal mining. Although, nearly all countries of the world have one form
of regulations or the other governing mining activities and the treatment of cultivable soil (topsoil). The illegal
miners seem to be saying by their actions that such rules and regulations are meant for the educated elites and
the registered miners who are most of the time alien to their mining sites and also accountable to the authority
that issues the mining leases.
II. Aim and objectives of the study.
This study generally aimed at examining the environmental ills associated with illegal mining activities in
Nigeria as a challenge to the environmentalist and the policy makers.
This will be achieved by: Identifying illegal mining sites examine their method of mining activities, highlight
the dangers of such illegal mining activities to the local ecological system, and proffer possible solution to such
Historical background and geographical location of the study areas.
The people of Pandogari is believed to have migrated from Kongoma Village which is also derived
from a rock (Duben Kongoma). The major tribes in the town are: Hausa, Dunkwa, Kamberi and other
immigrants like the Yorubas, Fulanis, and the Ibos.
Geographically, Pandogari is located on latitude 100 7N and longitude 60 5E. Pandogari is one of the major
settlement in Rafi Local Government Areas of Niger State that was carved out from Kusheriki L.G.A. The town
is about 135Km north-east of the state capital, Minna.
Barkin Ladi and Buruku are settlement areas within the Jos plateau that rises between 1200m and 1400m above
mean sea level. The Plateau lies between 80 55N and 100 11N and 80 21E and 90 30E .This area is generally
The Environmental Implication Of Illegal Minning Activities In Nigeria, A Case Study Of Pandogari 15 | Page
described as disaster area by the state government because of the indiscriminate mining activities which over
the years devastated the natural landscape.
III. Methodological approach to the study.
Generally, in a study like this, apart from the secondary data collected from published and unpublished
books and periodicals, the major source of information is direct personal observation, oral interview and the use
of questionnaires which were distributed according to the numbers of neighbourhood clusters in the town as
shown in table 2.
A hand-held digital camera was used to capture the various scenes at the mining site. The oral
interview was carried out with the aid of an interpreter at the mining site since the local miners hardly hear or
speak English particularly in Pandogari site.
Table 2. Neighbourhoods and questionnaire administration in Pandogari
Name of cluster
Questionnaires administered
Ungwan Kwongoma
Ungwan Madawaki
Gidan Daroa
Gidan Kankangi
Gidan Damao
Ungwan Nananda
Gidan Kurao
Total 1000
The equipments and the method of mining at the site.
As earlier mentioned, the illegal miners totally depend on local tools like digger, hoes, axes, cutlasses,
buckets, and other local materials for digging. The few modern material used include rock blaster and petrol
pumping machine to draw water out of the mining pits.
The drilling of rocks and the evacuation of debris after blasting is purely manual by relay method. Different
types of intoxicants are taken orally or injected into the bodies of the young miners who work like machines
tirelessly. See figures 1to 4 for the instruments used and site activities.
Fig. 1 Stepwise and relay system of moving debris at the mining site.
The Environmental Implication Of Illegal Minning Activities In Nigeria, A Case Study Of Pandogari 16 | Page
Fig. 2 showing the researcher at the mining site taking note on the miners activities.
Fig. 3 Pumping machine draining water out of the mining pit .
Fig. 4 An Abandoned mining pit filled with water which forms a new eco-system.
The Environmental Implication Of Illegal Minning Activities In Nigeria, A Case Study Of Pandogari 17 | Page
Legal and illegality in mining operation.
The issue of legal or illegality is a function of the existing political environment and the forces behind
any law, decree, bylaw and ordinances in a nation. In Nigeria for instance, the federal government is in charge
of all the mineral resources within the country and therefore promulgated the law banning any private individual
or group of individual from mining such mineral without being licensed by the appropriate government
A private miner intending to be licenced is expected to be registered and certified by the Corperate
Affairs Commission Abuja and also to apply for a mining lease from the Federal Ministry of Solid Mineral
Development, the application is to be accompanied with appropriate survey sketch plans describing the location
and the area coverage of the proposed mining site. The agency therefore determines the appropriate royalty to
be paid to the government.
Illegal miners generally are not educated and ill-informed about the procedural approach to mining
activities within the country. The illegal miners are not ignorant of the existing laws but deliberately ignore such
laws with impunity and sometime with assistance from corrupt officers of the federal agencies.
Types of mineral resource available in the two states and those mined at the study sites.
Niger and Plateau States are some of the states in Nigeria that are highly blessed with over 20 types of
solid minerals scattered all over the states. For instance, gold associated with quartz veins is located around
Minna, Maikunkele, Madaka near Izom and Fasa gurum, while costly gemstones like Ruby, Topaz and sapphire
are located in Plateau state, (Adekoya 1995). Mineral exploration within and around Niger State for instance,
can be traced back to the year 1911 in the then Niger, Sokoto and Zaria Colonial provinces. Russ W. (1957)
reported the occurrences of Kyanite in the then Niger-Zaria province. Also Adeleye (1976) confirmed the
occurrences of talc in some part of the state. Table 3 gives the general break down of available solid mineral
within the state.
Table 3 Solid mineral deposits in Niger and Plateau States
Names of
Industrial uses
Geological formation
Superconductor, steel alloys
Igneous and Metamorphic
Jos plateau,
Galena (Pbs)
Lead and ceramics
Igneous and Metamorphic
Gold (Au)
Gemstone, decoration and coating
Igneous, metamorphic and
Shiroro, minna, Paikoro
Graphite (L)
Facing in foundry mould, paints,
lubricants, stove polish, lead etc
Igneous and Metamorphic
Paikoro, Pandogari,
Iron ore
Machineries, iron rods, wire, building
Igneous, metamorphic and
Kontagora, Bida, Rafi
Fertilizer, paint, paper, textiles,
ceramic, insecticide, pharmaceutical
Igneous, metamorphic and
Lavun, Bida, Suleja
Brick, spark plug, refractory brick
Igneous and Metamorphic
Glass, chemical lime, ceramic,
pharmaceutical, flux for iron
jewelry as well as in the making of
watches and precision instruments
Igneous and Metamorphic
Jos plateau
Igneous and Metamorphic
Jos plateau, Biu
Silica, sand,
and quartzite
Ceramic, glass refractory and foundry
Igneous, metamorphic and
Gurara, Rijau, Bida
Paint, paper, plastic, cosmetic, textile,
pharmaceutical, chemical
Igneous and Metamorphic
Kagara, Kontagora
Igneous and Metamorphic
Pandogari, Munya
Metal weaponry (bullet), wrist watch,
Igneous, metamorphic and
Pandogari, Jos plateau,
used extensively in alloys such as
solder, bronze, and pewter and as a
protective coating for steel.
Igneous, metamorphic and
Jos plateau,
granites and pegmatite
Jos plateau.
Floor finishing (terrazzo), glass
Igneous and Metamorphic
Pandogari, Bida
Gemstone, weaponry
Igneous and Metamorphic
Source: Preliminary report on solid mineral resources development in Nigeria (1995).
The Environmental Implication Of Illegal Minning Activities In Nigeria, A Case Study Of Pandogari 18 | Page
Table 4. Trend of illegal mining activities in Pandogari
Average Area
No. of indigene engaged
No. of none indigene
17. 5km2
130 km2
200 km2
254 km2
312 km2
Source: Direct field observation and monitoring.
Illegal mining activities in this area are not fully nucleated because exploration of these minerals is
being carried out at various parts of the region. In fact, the mining sites are as far as 8km to 10km from the town
and without formal motor able road as in the case of Pandogari, Niger state. The amount of spatial distortion as
shown in Table 4 progresses as the news spread over the years. But one remarkable point in it is that between
the year 1998 and 2000, there was a boom in the trade, hence the influx of people to that locality. The trade
boom was so high to the extent that the then state governor has to visit the site with the intension to arrest the
suspects. The local people that are exposed to the trade actually started the operation before the none-indigene
gem-seekers flooded the area.
Open-cast mining of Cassiterite and columbite in Barkin-Ladi and Buruku also render the landscape of
this area denuded. It is estimated that some 372km2 of the total 8600 km2 of the Plateau had been damaged by
all sorts of mining activities of which about 40% are by illegal miners. In fact structural developmental
activities in most parts of Jos Plateau is made difficult and costly due the undulating nature of the terrain.
The physical Environmental effects of the mining activities.
Surface mining operations generally alter the morphological makeup of the mining site as a result of
digging, quarrying and dumping of debris heaps. Once an abandoned mining site has been left unreclaimed,
such area becomes a badland resembling erosional features like canyon, mesa-buties and residual (submorphic)
hollows, And their sizes depends on the dept of the targeted mineral and how much of those material has been
extracted from the site. Morphological changes can be particularly pronounced in hard rock mines, which tend
to have very steep slopes and for which little material is left for refilling (e.g., in stone quarries). At the mining
site in Pandogari, the overburden dumps left behind at the time of opening the mine, and the abandoned polje-
like wells that often causes ground subsidence by dewatering.
The mining activities also interfere with the surface water courses. Series of major river tributaries and
brooks were diverted from the mining wells which also affected the river regime. Apart from this, the washing
of the mined minerals and the rain storm find their ways into the neighbouring streams thereby causing river
turbidity and alkalinity. For instance according to Akinyede et al (2003), quoting Walter Lichem (2003), about
5000 times more people die each year from water-related diseases. The fact remains that; illegal miners are not
mindful of any environmental implication of their activities and therefore no plan for mitigation of any form.
The alteration of the soil profile and rock-bedding plain at the mining site also interfere with the groundwater
regime. There is a resultant loss of groundwater quality due to the infiltration of contaminated wastewater and
in washout and leaching of dumps, heaps and the mine itself.
Interference with the biological environment.
The extraction activity imposes noise pollutions on their surrounding areas particularly from the
drilling and blasting of mineral bearing bedrocks. In addition to the sound of the explosion, the attendant
vibrations and reverberations amount to an additional dynamic burden on the environment that does not only
annoys the neighbouring settlements, but are potential sources of structural damage. Allied to this, is the fauna
life. The noise and vibration effect of the mining activities on the animals and birds forces them to escape from
their natural habitat which may also have negative impact on their bio-physical life cycle.
On the local flora life (vegetal cover), apart from the clearance of sizable area for the mining activities, the
incidence of micro-fine dust (aerosol) generated from rock explosions settles on the plant leaves thereby
reducing the process of photosynthesis which on the long run can lead to stunted growth of vegetal life.
Aquatic ecosystems.
Aquatic ecosystems can be disrupted by qualitative and quantitative changes in surface water
conditions, while wetlands can be altered by groundwater level distortions. Fragile ecosystems in extreme
locations are particularly susceptible to permanent damage or destruction.
Finally, on the economic aspect, although high proportions of idle youths find solace at such mining
site, the negative effect on the food security is enormous. Fertile expanses of land that are devastated and
rendered uncultivable for long period of years deny the farmers’ access to such scarce land, hence a general
The Environmental Implication Of Illegal Minning Activities In Nigeria, A Case Study Of Pandogari 19 | Page
decrease in food production. Even after the mine has been abandoned and re-cultivated, the residual changes in
soil physics and chemistry, available water resources, etc. can lead to the appearance of different plant and
animal associations constituting an irreversible alteration stemming from the mining disruption.
IV. Conclusion
Conclusively, the issue of illegal mining in the country is detrimental to human environment as earlier
discussed especially in the rural areas where those minerals are located. Also the government at all level seems
to pay lip-service to the doctrine of sustainable environmental development as advocated for in Agenda 21 of
the UN. The local communities should therefore be educated on the need to keep watch over illegal miners’
activities within their area for their well-being and posterity sake.
V. The way forward.
The federal through the state government should work together with local village heads in whose
jurisdiction the mineral of interest is located (in spit of the controversial Land Use Decree of 1978) to protect
the resources and the environment at large.
The government through the law enforcement agents and even the custom officers control fully the
marketing and exportation of solid mineral in the country since most of those mineral are not locally utilized.
The local people should be sensitized and educated through open crusades and mass media to be a watch-dog
over their land on which they depend for their agricultural produce.
The relevant government agencies through the law enforcement agencies should be able to monitor and
ensure payment of royalty. They should also ensure that as soon as the mining activities are completed,
appropriate rehabilitation measures are carried out by the miners. To rehabilitate means to immediately
transform the areas concerned into a natural landscape as possible. Dumps, open-pit perimeters, outside dumps
and erstwhile extraction areas require immediate green-belting or planting with indigenous vegetation in order
to limit or prevent erosion. Special erosion control methods such as drainage and consolidation must be
employed in vulnerable areas.
The ultimate aim of reclamation must be to fully re-cultivate the worked out areas to enable
appropriate and corresponding use, or to re-nature them for another purpose. To reclaim the land, it must be
graded, compacted and covered with soil and humus to allow immediate re-grassing and subsequent soil
A pre-commencement status quo study with thorough investigation of all matters relevant to the
physical, biological and social environment provides a crucial basis for evaluating the environmental
consequences of surface mines and planning re-cultivation measures.
The mining operators should be made to pay some amount of caution fee equivalent to the cost of
restoring the damaged environment close to its original state. But if the operator can satisfactorily rectify the
damage satisfactorily, then the amount so charged will be refund back.
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... Today, hand methods by a single person or a group of people are used for mining near-surface, high grade deposit in the study area. Hence, the area was described as a "disaster area" by the Plateau State government because of its devastated landscape as a result of indiscriminate mining activities over the years, (Jaiye, 2013). Similarly, many contaminated mine sites in the United States have been classified as superfund sites (Pierzynski et al, 2004). ...
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The distribution of acidity and heavy metals in mine wastes and soil samples in the vicinity of cassiterite mine sites in Plateau State, Nigeria had been carried out. Samples of mine wastes were collected from the mine sites while soil samples were collected from farmlands beyond 450 m, 80 m, 330 m, 70 m, 430 m and 330 m from the mine sites of Rayfield, Gero, Sabongida Kanar, Kuru Jantar, Bisichi and Barkin Ladi respectively. These samples were analysed for pH and heavy metals at the Geochemistry Laboratory of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) in Kaduna, Nigeria. The geo-accumulation index (Igeo) of heavy metals in soil and mine waste samples were thereafter determined. The pH values of the samples indicated that they were all acidic. The Igeo in the samples of the study area were of the order Fe > Mn > Cu > Cd > As > Pb > Cr. The average geo-accumulation indices (Igeo) of 2.1 + 0.3, 1.4 + 0.7, 1.6 + 0.4 and 1.4 + 0.4 for cadmium, arsenic, lead and chromium respectively in soil could lead to their accumulation in food crops due to water intake by plants from the soil. This could have serious health implication especially in children. The acidity as well as the heavy metal contamination reduced as distances from the mine increased for all samples collected from all the locations of the study area except copper. In habitants in close proximity to the mines should also be advised to relocate.
... Today, hand methods by a single person or a group of people are used for mining near-surface, high grade deposit in the study area. The area was therefore described as a "disaster area" by the state government because of its devastated landscape as a result of indiscriminate mining activities over the years [8]. ...
Aims: The study assessed the portability as well as the suitability for use in irrigation of water samples from mine ponds, streams, wells and boreholes of selected cassiterite mine sites in Plateau State of Nigeria. Study Design: Experimental design was used in the sampling and analyses of water samples from different water sources in the study area. Methodology: These samples were analysed using the Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometric (AAS) model AA 6800 in accordance with the provision of ASTMD 856-10 at the Geochemistry Laboratory of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), Kaduna, Nigeria. Results: The mean pH values of water samples collected from mine ponds, streams, wells and boreholes were 5.6, 6.5, 6.3 and 6.3 respectively. While those of As were 0.027 ppm, 0.013 ppm, 0.013 ppm and 0.013 ppm and those of Cd were. 0.013 ppm, 0.0098 ppm, 0.007 ppm and 0.0079 ppm. The mean concentrations of Cr in water samples collected from mine ponds, streams, wells and boreholes were 0.06 ppm, 0.03 ppm, 0.03 ppm and 0.03 ppm respectively. While those of Pb were 0.06 ppm, 0.02 ppm, 0.02 ppm and 0.03 ppm and the average % Na in the water samples collected from mine ponds, streams, wells and boreholes were 87, 73, 69 and 60 respectively. Conclusion: The water samples collected from the different sources in the study area were acidic and had unenviable amount of toxic contaminants (Cd, Pb and As) in concentrations higher than the maximum allowable limits set by WHO (2011). The consumption of water with high concentrations of Pb for example can lead to mental retardation in children as well as nervous, skeletal, circulatory, enzymatic, endocrine, and immune systems damages while Cd may make the consumers prone to lung cancer, bone fractures, kidney dysfunction, and hypertension. The water samples were also not suitable for irrigation purposes because of the high % Na.
Nigeria is endowed with significant solid mineral resources that have the potentials to attract investors and investments to boost economic growth in the country. The mineral resources range from Tin, Copper, Bauxite, Diamond and Gold to mention a few. Unfortunately, this endowment is being undermined by constant illegal mining by some persons including foreigners, believed to be sponsored by moneybags. The Nigerian government may have lost about N4 billion in three years, owing to illegal practices and corrupt activities of companies operating in the mining sector in Nigeria. Illegal mining began to gain prominence after independence in 1960. Mining rights belong to the federal government but it grants licenses for exploration, mining and sale of minerals. In the absence of effective policy, illegal mining has continued unabated and no royalties are paid to the federal government. This paper presents the loopholes and the ways to curtail the activities of illegal mining of minerals in Nigeria.
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Provinsi Jambi memiliki sumberdaya alam melimpah sehingga sector pertanian, perkebunan, kehutanan dan pertambangan berkembang cukup baik, terdapat empat Kabupaten yang menjadi tempat Pertambangan Emas Tanpa Izin (PETI). Pada tahun 2016 Badan Lingkungan Hidup Provinsi Jambi memperkirakan peningkatan kerusakan wilayah karena PETI meningkat 100% tertinggi di Sarolangun dan Merangin, hal ini mengakibatkan tercemarnya lebih 30 sungai dan anak sungai oleh limbah tambang emas berupa lumpur, besi, arsenik, hingga merkuri, juga merusak 7 lubuk larangan (sumber ikan) dan area persawahan lebih dari separonya tidak dapat ditumbuhi tanaman. Penemuan lainnya adalah sungai Batanghari yang merupakan muara dari beberapa sungai di Jambi tercemar berat hal ini diduga akibat air buangan PETI (1,2,3,4). PETI terus berlangsung di provinsi Jamabi dikarenakan masyarakat merasa ini cara cepat untuk menghasilkan uang dan ditampung oleh pengusaha emas besar karena merasa diuntungkan serta oknum aparat keamanan yang dibayar memberikan pengamanan dan oknum pemerintah yang memberlakukan peraturan secara longgar (5,6). Tujuan dari studi kasus ini adalah untuk membuat langkah-langkah antisipasi mencegah terjadinya gangguan kesehatan karena efek mercury, besi, dan arsenic serta zat kimia lainnya pada manusia khususnya anak-anak yang hidup di area tambang illegal diantaranya; Membuat surat atau nota keberatan atas proses penambanagan emas yang terjadi kepada pemerintah kabupaten dan provinsi agar tegas menindak oknum dibalik penambangan emas illegal, melakukan advokasi kepada pihak pengambil kebijakan agar membuat kebijakan yang melindungi kesehatan warga dan kelestarian lingkungan, dan sebagai pemicu bagi Dinas Kesehatan kabupaten dan provinsi untuk mengambil tindakan segera mencegah dan menanggulangi masalah kesehatan karena keracunan mercuri dan zat berbahaya lainnya. Karena kemiskinan dan kurangnya lapangan pekerjaan serta kemudahan untuk mengakses area penambangan membuat masyarakat ingin terus melakukan penambangan walaupun tidak memiliki izin dari pemerintah hal ini membuat kehilangan kontrol atas penggunaan bahan-bahan kimia yang berbahaya selama proses penambangan yang berdampak pada gangguan masalah kesehatan dan pencemaran lingkungan dalam jangka waktu yang panjang.
The Geology of the Middle Niger Basin
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