FUTA DON SOUNDS THE ALARM BELL ON MINING OPERATIONS IN NIGERIA
A professor of mining Engineering at the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA, Boluwaji Olaleye has urged Nigerians, especially those working in mines, living in contiguous areas or places prone to earth tremors, to be wary of signs of impending slope or surface failure. Some of the signs listed by Olaleye include cracking or tilting of house elements, crack on slopes and walls or appearance of such, water proofing at the base of slopes, soil moving from foundations, unusual sounds of cracking rocks or trees and visible bulges in retaining walls. Professor Olaleye sounded the alarm bell on the consequences of the increasing practice of unplanned exploitation of rocks and mineral resources in the country while delivering the 114th inaugural lecture of the Federal University of Technology Akure on Tuesday, September 10, 2019. He said if adequate mine planning and implementation of rock engineering programme are not done the consequences associated with slope failure ranging from minor, major or even catastrophic may be recorded. Olaleye who spoke on the topic ,‘Slope Stability: Building Safety Confidence in Rocks and Minerals Excavation’, said mining operations and related activities can become unprofitable and even catastrophic as a result of mine disaster caused by slope instability, mine sinking and caving.
The Don suggests the need to investigate from time to time the problems that may be associated with the exploitation of mineral deposit with a view to proffering solutions to slope failures that may lead to internal and external losses like equipment damage, loss of product, death to personnel, damage to building, gas and well mains, roads, farmlands, railways and transmission lines. Professor Olaleye urged citizens to call relevant agencies whenever any of the identified signs are noticed or in cases of earthquake, mine sinking and earth tremor in their environment. He also advised that they should move quickly away from likely slide paths, take shelter under heavy mine machinery if in the mine, hold firmly and stay still until movement has ceased while finding cover in the section of the building furthest from the approaching slope failure as a means. To prevent slope failures, he stressed that individuals and organizations carry out research on slope stability before building and avoid erecting structures close to mountain edges, near drainage ways or near steep slopes. He also advised that breaking of boulders or rocks should be avoided. Professor Olaleye said individuals should be alert while driving, look out for collapsed and fallen rocks and pavements, debris from flow and suspected affected areas.
Highlighting earthquakes and tremors which had caused major disasters around the world including the 2010 Haiti earthquake which claimed about 160 lives and recent earthquake occurrences in Kwoi, Kaduna State, Shaki, Oyo State and Igbogene, Bayelsa State in 2016 and Mpape, Abuja, Nigeria in 2018, Professor Olaleye recommends that in addition to Federal Government’s commitment to tackle the problem of slope failure recently creeping into the nation through the Earthquake Monitoring Command and Control Centre of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), Government should make deliberate commitments to the execution of the new mining roadmap established in 2016 to ensure safety of the nation. He also enjoined Government to encourage sustainable exploitation and management of the nation’s mineral resources, emphasizing mine safety, best mining practices and value addition downstream in order to attract investment. The expert called for rock slope disaster management, monitoring and detection system using sensor networks to avert mine accidents to form part of the requirements for the establishment of mines and be monitored by relevant agencies, while strictly enforcing the compliance with mining regulations by mine operators, among others.
The Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the lecture, Professor Joseph Fuwape in his remark described the Lecturer as a model to the younger generation, applauding his laudable contributions to knowledge. He called on Government, Captains of mine related industries, regulatory agencies and Stakeholders to invest in the realization of safety from landslides and slope failures for the safety of personnel and the good of the nation.