House Moves to Resuscitate Coal Mining

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Chinedu Eze

The House of Representatives has resolved to direct the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to immediately commence the revitalisation of coal mining in the country.

This was sequel to a motion on the need to resuscitate the abandoned coal mining sites in Nigeria sponsored by Hon. Nnolim Nnaji representing Nkanu East/West Federal Constituency.

During his lead debate in favour of the motion, the lawmaker urged the lower chamber to support the motion because it would shore up the economy of the country.

He observed that between 1916 and 1970 coal was a major revenue earner for the country regretting that successive regimes abandoned it just like all other sources of revenues that were neglected when oil was found in some parts of the country.

According to him, apart from helping to improve the economy of the country, resuscitating the coal mining sites would equally create employments for nation’s teeming youths and provide alternative source of power to address the nation’s perennial energy crisis.

Nnaji in the motion chronicled the history of the coal discovery in Nigeria, which according to him dates back to 1909 during the colonial era.

He noted that coal used to be one of the major mineral deposits covering about 270,000 hectares of land, adding that previous studies had estimated the demonstrated coal resources to be 49 million, averaging 2.2 meters thick.

He also gave graphic details of the established coalfields, which include Ogbete, Amansiodo, Ezinmo, Inyi, Onyeama, and Okpara in Enugu. Others are Ogboyoga, 1 and 2 and Okab in Kogi State, Ogwashi-Azagba Liginite in Delta State, Owukpa in Benue, Lafia-Lobi in Nasarawa and also in Gombe.

Nnaji who is also the House Committee Chairman on Aviation, equally recalled that the federal government in 1999 came up with a policy and legislation that deregulated the mineral exploration and exploitation which opened the coal mining to private sector participation.

This, he said, resulted in the Nigerian Coal Corporation entering into joint venture arrangement and the subsequent issuance of licences to some private investors by the then regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Nnaji disclosed that the federal government further signed a multibillion dollar memorandum of understanding, (MOU) with a Chinese firm, HTG-Pacific Energy Consortium to generate power from coal in Enugu which was meant to develop coal resources and construct coal fired generating plants that would connect to the national grid about 1000 to 1,200 megawatts.

The lawmaker, thus, appealed to the House to direct the Committee on Mines to embark on a fact-finding visit to Enugu coal mining sites and other coal fields in the country and report back for further legislative actions.