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Mining and Tourism in Nigeria: The Case for the Preservation of Shere Hills (2)

Proshare

Monday, June 05, 2017   03.30 PM / Proshare WebTV 

When we embarked on this feature story, little did we know of its symbolism and significance not just to the citizens of Jos, Plateau State, but to all involved in the conservation, tourism and mining industry across the country. 

We did not have to wait for the weekend to be over before we got calls from the state, other parts of the country and interestingly, from international agencies – all weighing in on what represents to most, a defining issue beyond economics. It was about values, culture and or rights which over the years appears not to have been guided by an overarching philosophy or/and set objective. 

We made series of calls to those in government who should know, with little success to date in terms of clarity and way forward; and this was at both the state and federal levels. The more intriguing discovery was that the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals Development in Nigeria did not have an easily accessible database of mining rights and conservation sites (that were off-limits) at both state and federal levels. 

While we continue to explore legitimate means, routes and channels to approximate the facts beyond the story here, we recognise that the seriousness from all stakeholders who have engaged provides a compelling reason to see this through. 

The issues post the first report, indicates that it is not a simple delineation between mining and tourism; the psyche of the people goes far deeper than economic options. While some are historical and economical; other schools of thought appear political, sectional and opportunistic. The lack of clarity from government however looms larger over the issue. We will continue to explore these tendencies and realities in our follow up contributions. 

It felt right to share the developments that occurred during the past week for better appreciation of the development being covered.    

RECALL:  Mining and Tourism in Nigeria: The Case for The Preservation of Shere Hills (1)

Moulds Nigeria Limited
 
First, a clarification was sought and we responsibly obliged; that “Moulds Nigeria Limited, the construction company at the heart of the story and based in Jos, Plateau State; is not operating in the “Shere Hills” as represented in our initial report”. 

We take this very seriously and will responsibly act to ensure that the name of the firm is not brought to disrepute or misrepresentation at all. That is not our natural intention and we will guard against that throughout the process. In that same spirit, we encourage the firm to assist us in our enquiries as best as they possibly can, if only to enable stakeholders appreciate what needs to be done to contain, resolve and remedy the situation. 

According to representations received, Moulds Nigeria Limited (incorporated on October 29, 1980) is a building and civil engineering company with a current annual turnover of approx. twenty million dollars (US$20m) and a plant holding of over eight million dollars (US$8ml). Major clients of Moulds Nigeria Limited are the Federal Ministry of Works (Highways Department), Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Plateau and Bauchi State governments. 

The company has played a major role in infrastructure projects across the North-East and North-Central regions of the country, so its pedigree in building and construction is well documented. 

An unverified source posits that Moulds Ltd is not in Shere Hills and is fully licensed to carry out mining operations where it currently is. We continue to make efforts to engage the company through the channel of information where this was made known to the public; and encourage them to make their side of the story known. This is important to clear the air and keep the substantive issue outside of unnecessary controversy and address the subject matter conclusively.   

RECALL:  Mining and Tourism in Nigeria: The Case for The Preservation of Shere Hills (1)  

Shere Hills – Agreeing on a mutually Agreed-on Survey Map 
According to a citizen/resident, “I am glad that the Ministry is sensitive and trying to stop the stone crushing.  Unfortunately “Moulds” is correct. Technically they are not operating in Shere Hills.  If you look on the survey maps, Shere Hills is that large group of hills that are quite a bit further east of Gog and Magog.”   

Enquiries suggest that a careful look at the survey map of Jos showed that Shere Hills is that large group of hills, that are quite a bit further east of Gog and Magog. The town of Fobur is at the start of the hills on the west side. Shere Hills actually run for quite a distance north and south; almost from the Jos - Mangu road on the south to the Jos- Bauchi road on the north.  

As a side note, that area where Moulds Ltd is currently operating in used to be a "Gazetted Forest Reserve" and may still be. That said, if that remains true, no one is allowed to mine in that area or take trees from it.  It was designated to be left as is and not subject to development opportunities or to become a settlement area.  

Comparative Experience – The Place of the Law 
The United Kingdom offers us a benchmark experience – they provide clarity on mining activities alongside protection issues in and around conservation, tourism and heritage sites. 

From research, it would appear that this is done in two ways - first through the designation of individual buildings, monuments, gardens and landscapes under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and the second way through the UK Spatial Planning System under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. 

We believe same should and will apply in Nigeria especially at the time Nigeria’s Solid Minerals Development Ministry is recalibrating the focus, objectives and operations of the mining sector in the country, with Jos as one of the major mining belts in the country. 

To get a clear insight into the licensing process as it concerns the mining operations in the designated Jos Heritage sites, and ensuring that this aligns with the due process, our on-going “part 3” story will attempt an answer and should feature updates from the clarification around Moulds Nigeria Limited, its area/scope of operations and the resolution of the map/location of Shere Hills. 

More importantly, we are excited about the possibility of sharing the report of the on-going investigations being carried out by the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals Development. 

If interested in the story, kindly contact us via news@proshareng.com and info@proshareng.com.

Related News 

1.       Mining and Tourism in Nigeria: The Case for The Preservation of Shere Hills (1)

2.      Destruction of Shere hills a symptom of the short sightedness plaguing Nigeria

3.      Plateau Turns Shere Hills Wildlife Park

4.     The Roadmap for the Growth & Development of the Nigerian Mining Industry

 

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