The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has revealed that the $150 million World Bank loan recently approved for the sector may not cover coal projects, but arrangements have been reached with the African Development Bank (AfDB) to fund coal projects.
Speaking during a meeting with stakeholders in the mining sector and host communities in Enugu on Monday, Fayemi said the move was for the country to take advantage of its huge coal reserves to solve its power problems.
The Minister said the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and the Ministry of Power were collaborating on the coal projects, which he said would account for about 30 percent of the country’s power mix.
He said that the AfDB funding would be made available to investors who can set up coal power plants that can generate as much as 500 megawatts as well as those who can set up modular plants, assuring that the country has huge reserves of coal that could help resolve the power issue.
“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 licenses and had gone ahead to set up power generating plant to cater for their industrial use,” he said.
He cited Lafarge Cement and the Dangote Group as two of the notable business concerns that had acquired coal mining licenses and set up power plants to generate power for their industrial use.
He added that the ministry recently gave coal mining license to BUA Cement to mine coal in Sokoto and generate power.
The Minister who had earlier visited the Okapara and Onyeama coal mines in Enugu, in company with the Minister of State for Mines and Steel development, Hon Abubakar Bawa Bwari, said the coal from the mines used to serve the Oji Rivers and also Ijora, in Lagos State before it was abandoned.
He said his tour of the coal mines was to ensure that the national assets are put to proper and profitable use.
He said state governments and private businesses would benefit from the coal projects, even as he stated that environmental safety would be taken seriously.
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 Works to assist in fixing some of the roads leading to the mines.
The stakeholders meeting was attended by representatives of the state government, led by the Commissioner for Environment and Solid Minerals, Amb Fidel Ayogu; traditional rulers, representatives of host communities, security agencies, investors and local miners.