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Illegal Operations: Another Chinese Company Sealed in Akwa Ibom

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A Chinese-owned mining company, Ruitai, located at Esuk Ikim Akeme community, Ibeno LGA, has been sealed pending the outcome of investigations by Akwa Ibom State Government.

This is coming barely one week after Akwa Ibom State Government had ordered the relocation as well as a proper investigation into the activities of the Chinese Manufacturing Company, ‘Golden Tripod Limited’ along Ikot Ekpene Road, Uyo.

According to a press release from the media unit of the state ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources made available to Nigerian Tribune in Uyo, the illegal mining site was discovered during an unscheduled inspection tour of the company by the Hon. Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources, Chief Uno Etim Uno, and his Ministry of Internal Security counterpart, Brigadier General Koko Essien (rtd) on Wednesday.

The joint ministerial inspection team which also included the Permanent Secretary of MEMR, Iquo Abia, Esq on arriving Ibeno community, were conducted round the mining site by the Chairman of Ibeno LGA, High Chief Williams Mkpa and black clay-like minerals contained in sack bags of 50kg, and described by the miners as Titanium Ore were discovered.

Findings by Nigerian Tribune show that Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It is a lustrous, silver-grey transition metal known for its high strength, low density, and excellent corrosion resistance. Titanium is widely used in various industrial applications due to its unique properties.

Titanium is the 9th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, occurring primarily in the form of minerals known as titanium ores. The most common titanium minerals are ilmenite (FeTiO3), rutile (TiO2), and leucoxene (a weathered form of ilmenite). These minerals are widely distributed in nature, with varying concentrations in different types of rocks and geological formations.

The most commonly used titanium is alloys which are mainly used in aircraft, spacecraft and missiles because of their low density and ability to withstand extremes of temperature. They are also used in golf clubs, laptops, bicycles and crutches. Power plant condensers use titanium pipes because of their resistance to corrosion.

According to the release by the ministry, on a critical examination of the site amidst tight security, the Managing Director and Director of the company, Zeng Zhonghuan and Huang Ying, were not available at the site. The available staff members could not provide any information or documents to legalise their activities at the site.

“At the end of the inspection tour, the following anomalies were uncovered about the operations of the company: The company, Ruitai Mining Company, is purely an exploration company. Ruitai Mining Company’s Board of Directors comprises only Chinese, thus, not eligible to acquire the Small-scale Mining License as claimed.

“The Company has not conducted the Environmental Impacts Assessment ( EIA) in its mining operations.

“The company has not submitted the Environmental Management Plan (EMP), among others.
In view of the above anomalies, the Inspection Team made the following recommendations:

“That Ruitai Mining Company should terminate its mining operations forthwith until due clearance legitimizing its operations is completed with the State Government.

“That the Company should approach Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources(MEMR) on or before Friday, 1st September 2023 with all the relevant papers authorizing its operations, with a full coordination of the area approved for its mining operations.

“That all security operatives should be withdrawn from the mining site, while the DPO of Ibeno LGA, SP Victor Ezekwu, should enforce the directive in order to ensure strict compliance.

Addressing a section of correspondents in his office, the commissioner maintained that Akwa Ibom State government would no longer tolerate illegal mining activities and environmental degradation associated with such operations.

The Environment and Mineral Resources Commissioner also used the occasion to inform newsmen of steps taken by the state government to respond to gully erosion threats in some parts of the state, especially Uyo metropolis, including Udo Inwang and Etim Umana Streets. Assuring that intervention will commence as soon as possible.

He cautioned construction companies against excavating borrow pits without an environmental impact assessment and necessary approvals.

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