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An appraisal of the conformity of the 2007 Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act to the polluter pays principle

Jude O. Ezeanokwasa


The high economic potentials of solid minerals have drawn Nigeria to the exploitation of the many mineral resources found in many States of the federation particularly as revenue from oil industry is dwindling. However, these solid minerals cannot truly be beneficial if efforts are not also directed to containing the high incidence of environmental pollution and degradation associated with its exploitation. The environmental hazards include landscape destruction, air pollution from heavy dust that accompanies soil excavation, and watercourse pollution. Aware of the overall need for balancing out every economic development with environmental protection, Nigeria adopted the ‘polluter pays principles’ in the 1999 National Policy on the Environment (revised in 2016) as one of the principles for pollution control and prevention in the country. The ‘polluter pays principle’, seeks to hold a polluter responsible for the cost of remedying the injuries caused by pollution generated by him. It is believed that by holding a polluter responsible for injuries from pollution caused by him he would be very careful not to pollute the environment. Given the high incidence of environmental pollution associated with the mining industry this paper has critically inquired into how far the polluter pays principle has been applied in the regulation of the mining industry in Nigeria under the Minerals and Mining Act 2007. The finding is that though the Minerals and Mining Act 2007 contains the tenets of the ‘polluter pays principle’, Nigeria is yet to developed a public service that is sufficiently patriotic, and focused to sincerely actualize the ‘polluter pays principle’ in the administration of the mining industry. Corruption, tribalism, religious bigotry and nepotism are some of the problems that prevent the public service from rising up to the administrative demands of the ‘polluter pays principle.

Keywords: Environmental pollution, Mining industry, Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007, Polluter Pays Principle, Solid minerals