So the Minister of Mines & Steel Development Dr. Kayode Fayemi recently stated that the Federal Government plans on reviving the abandoned coal mines at Enugu. This is indeed a welcomed development considering coal has multiple uses beneficial to different industries. The FG’s budget though is, unsurprisingly, insufficient and so incapable of reviving coal mining on its own through the Nigeria Coal Coperation. The hope of the Ministry is to partner with African Development Bank and private stakeholders to fund the coal production.
As you would imagine, Dangote Cement Industries is at the top of the list as coal is a critical source of energy needed in cement production. The company imports its coal for production since the Enugu Coal Mines were defunct since the 60’s following the discovery of oil in Nigeria. However, if the mines are revived, Dangote alone could significantly boost forex in the Country and save importation cost as Nigeria still imports cement, an expense it cannot afford.
Why this news of coal mining revival is so exciting pertains to the wealth of benefits the Country stands to gain. Aside from tremendously cutting cost for cement producing companies, coal plays a vital role in electricity generation. China, the worlds most user of coal, followed by the US and Russia use most of their coal to power plants that generate electricity. We all know stable electricity has been one of our major struggles in Nigeria and fixing this problem will no doubt alleviate poverty. How? By encouraging emerging businesses, reducing production cost, creating jobs, generating income, boosting import rates etc. More so, our power sector will not rely so heavily on natural gas and private citizens on diesel and fuel for generators.
Also, the conversion of coal to liquid fuel creates a substitute for oil. Ta-Da! Infact, 20% of transport needs in South Africa is derived from coal. Better still, this liquid fuel burns cleaner than oil, meaning less carbon dioxide in the air, cleaner air, improvement in the health of the people and reduction of global warming (finally we can say Nigeria cares about the environment).
However, there are some serious considerations to be made. Coal conversion in the modern world requires low emission technologies for the capture and storage of carbon to prevent air pollution which is very expensive. It will be rewarding in the long term though, to prevent consequences such as that in Downtown Beijing.
All things considered, Nigerians are hoping the FG follows through on this plan for our country to reach its utmost potential.