• Says FG set to partner AfDB on coal initiatives
Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
In a bid to solve epileptic power supply in the country, the federal government on Tuesday disclosed that coal powered electricity plant would account for about 30 per cent of the country’s energy mix.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, while disclosing this during a meeting with stakeholders in the mining sector and host communities in Enugu, added that the federal government was equally set to partner the African Development Bank (AfDB) to fund coal projects in the country.
According to Fayemi, “While the $150 million World Bank loan recently approved for the sector may not cover coal projects, arrangements have been reached with the AfDB to fund coal projects in order for the country to take advantage of its huge coal reserves to solve its power problems.”
He hinted that his ministry and that of power were collaborating on the coal projects which he disclosed that is expected to account for about 30 per cent of the country’s energy mix.
He stated that the AfDB funding would be made available to investors who can set up coal power plants that can generate as much as 500 megawatt as well as those who can set up modular plants.
“We have an existential need for power in this country and we have to do something about it and we can get power from coal which we have in abundance. We need people- private sector that would set up plants that will use coal,” Fayemi said, adding that some organisations had acquired coal mining licences and had gone ahead to set up power generating plant to cater for their industrial use.
He cited Lafarge Cement and Dangote Group as two of the notable business concerns which had acquired coal mining licences and set up power plants to generate power for their industrial use.
The former governor of Ekiti State added that the ministry recently gave coal mining licence to BUA Cement to mine coal in Sokoto and generate power.
“Our tour of the coal mines is to ensure that the national assets are put to proper and profitable use. State governments and private businesses would benefit from the coal projects, and environmental safety would also be taken seriously,” he said.
The minister was optimistic that with a successful investment in the coal projects the power issue would be resolved. He added that the ministry was in talks with the ministry of work to assist in fixing some of the roads that lead to the coal sites.
Also, Fayemi said the federal government is ready to collaborate with state governments and critical stakeholders to revive the mining sector in the country.
The minister stated this when he paid a courtesy call on the Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, during a tour of mining locations in the state.
Fayemi, accompanied by the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari, said they were in the state to inspect abandoned and unutilised coal mines with a view to reviving them.
“There are about 13 coal mines in Enugu State, some have been privatised while others are abandoned and vandalised. The federal government is concerned about the risk and safety of these abandoned coal mines and has embarked on environmental audit of the mines to see how they can be made attractive to investors,” the minister said.
He solicited the support and cooperation of the state government in bringing back the past glory of coal mining in the country.
Ugwuanyi noted that his state is richly endowed with solid minerals but had benefited little or nothing from its mineral endowments due to illegal mining and non utilisation of mining licences held by some operators he described as “ghost miners”.
He stated that many are in possession of mining licences but have not utilised them, there by denying the state of the benefits accruable from the sector.
The governor urged the federal government to apply the “use-it-or-lose it” provision in the Mining Act 2007 and revoke all unutilised licences issued to operators in the state in order to enable serious mining operators acquire mining licences and use them for the benefit of the state.
Ugwuanyi commended the minister for inspecting the abandoned coal mines in the state and for holding a stakeholders meeting to interact on how to move the mining sector forward.