Government to support coal investors
The Federal Government has pledged to support investors in developing coal to power generation plants in the country. It will also act fast to avert imminent landslide in Enugu State.
The Minister of Solid Minerals and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, noted that Enugu was prone to landslide following the ecological problems posed by the abandoned coalmines in the state.
The minister, who convened a stakeholders’ town hall meeting after he visited the mines, stated that an audit of the various abandoned mines had commenced, stressing that the federal and state governments must work together to solve the problem. He spoke on Monday.
Fayemi said the current administration sees coal as a veritable source of energy, stressing that the roadmap of the power sector targets that at least 40 per cent of Nigeria’s energy should come from coal.
Explaining that some cement companies have started investing in coal-powered energy, he said government was looking for investors in power plants that could produce at least 500 mega watts of energy for support.
Although he stated that the country had received support from the World Bank, he added, however, that government was in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) to support coal mining and power generation in the country.
He identified insufficient funding, lack of geological data, weak institutional capacity, low productivity, illegal mining and community challenges as well as interference with the exclusivity of minerals rights and ownership as some challenges militating against the sector, assuring that they were being tackled.
Earlier the stakeholders, drawn from Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi and Abia states, had called on the Federal Government to assist them in overcoming the several challenges confronting them.
The Guardian gathered that of the 17 coal mines in the state, the ones excavated and abandoned when coal was the country’s mainstay have been filled by flood and saturated with the tendency that the super-imposed earth will start caving in with the extra pressure being put on the abandoned tunnels from population and buildings.
It was gathered that the tunnels criss-cross major parts of the Enugu urban, even as some of the rivers in the state are said to have found themselves into the abandoned mines and mixed with its sulphuric acid that are dangerous for human consumption.