The Enugu State Government has directed a coal mining firm, Milhouse Energy Services Limited, located in the state to pay N1billion into the Enugu State Environmental Remediation Trust Fund.
The Commissioner for Environment and Climate Change, Prof. Sam Ugwu, disclosed this in a statement issued on Wednesday in Enugu.
Ugwu directed that the firm located at Awhum in Udi Local Government Area of the state would also pay a N100,000 tax on every truckload of coal evacuated from a mining site.
The commissioner said that the company had mined and evacuated coal from the site since February 2022 without any payments or recourse whatsoever to the state government.
He said the fund would be transparently managed by an independent committee of professionals specifically for the remediation and healing of the affected environment.
The commissioner recalled that the mining site was one of the many sealed by the Enugu State Committee on Review of Mining Activities headed by him following a crackdown by the Gov Peter Mbah administration on illegal mining sites in the state.
He added that the sealing included those without environmental impact certification and remediation plans.
He explained that an Enugu State High Court had earlier granted an interim injunction restraining Milhouse Energy Services and African Pits and Quarries Limited, their agents, servants, privies, workers, among others, from “carrying on further activities on the site”.
Ugwu stated that the order entailed environmental degradation, damaging and interfering in whatsoever manner with the large expanse of land situated at Ibite Awhum.
The commissioner said that following discussions with the state government, Milhouse Energy Services Ltd may return to site in earnest following an agreement with the state government.
According to him, the agreement will see the company paying the sum of N1 billion for environmental remediation while also paying the sum of N100,000 as tax per truckload of coal evacuated from the site.
“The company had mined and evacuated coal from the site since February 2022 without any payments or recourse whatsoever to the Government of Enugu State.
“While the state is not contesting the fact that solid minerals are on the Exclusive Legislative List, we will not accept indiscriminate mining activities and degradation of our environment.
“We will not accept that people will enter our state and start carting away our resources without recourse to the Enugu State Government.
“We want to see the veracity of the license, which they claim they have from the Federal Government, and we have given them a letter inviting them to a meeting.
“We also want to find out how they have been remitting environmental fees to the Enugu State Ministry of Environment because we will not fold our hands and watch our environment destroyed and lives endangered”.