Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts of Surface Mining in Udege District Nasarawa State Nigeria. (Review Completed - Accepted)
The mining industry remains the backbone of many economies in the developing world. This paper has examined the socio-economic and associated environmental impacts of surface mining in Udege District Nasarawa, The study established the local mining methods, examined the socio-economic and environmental impacts of surface and illegal mining on the host communities, and assessed the benefits of surface mining in the study area. The study used both primary data and secondary data in constructing the quantitative and qualitative data base. Primary data were obtained by means of focus group discussion (FGD), questionnaires administration and participants’ observation. However out of 150 questionnaires administered, 125 were validated by respondents for statistical analyses. Socio-economic responses enlisted from the respondents in the study area were analyzed using descriptive statistical analysis and the “Chokor” severity scale; the socio-economic concerns were gauged on a scale of 1-5. The mining methods identified in the study area are determined by certain factors which included the position and the alignment of the volcanic veins containing the minerals, the nature of the implements used and the availability of water. Among the methods used to extract minerals in the study area include: the “Hydraulitiking and grave pumping” methods, “cafanchaning” method, “Loto” method and the “Ground sluice” method. The mining process involves the random sinking of mining pits for the exploitation of the tin and columbite, with devastating effect on the environment as opened pits are not covered after mining. The activity which is rudimentary and non-regulated contributes to secondary devastation of the arable land with resultant effects on the land, ecosystem, and health threads to inhabitants. The overall after-math effect lives much to be desired in terms of environmental degradation, potential health hazards and ground water pollution amongst others.The study found abandoned pits and heaps of sand, deforestation and uprooting of trees at mining sites, and pollution of community water sources as the most environmental concerns in the study area, while other issues like collapse of building and chemical effects were voted absent in the study area. More so, four (4) socio-economic issues which include truancy in school attendance reduce farming activities, water pollution and other health related risks were ranked as serious and very serious in the community. The most serious issue on the scale is water pollution which in turns informs other health related risks. In terms of benefits, 35% of respondents benefited from mining as a source of employment; 33% in income generation, while 15% from increased marketing of farm produce. The result of the analyzes showed that consequences of mining activities were not limited to distortion of soil landscape but also included extinction of some animals, poor agricultural productivity, health problems, lack of education, communal conflicts, land degradation, mine pits and other structural damages. The impact of these changes has restricted most host community, who depend on agriculture for subsistence, from advancing and improving their livelihoods.