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More private sector investors are deepening activities in the nation’s moribund coal exploration industry as part of renewed drive to grow power supply for mega industries.
It would be recalled that coal is one of the major sources of power generation. It is one of the most important fuels for power generation and this is one of the factors recently considered by the Donald Trump administration to issue a statement through the Treasury boss that US is set to assist Africa in coal technology to grow power supply.
In an interview with Dr. Innocent Ezuma, Group Executive Chairman, Eta Zuma West Africa Limited, he said he ventured into coal exploration as part of his drive to assist the country in power supply.
He said “we invested huge amount of money to develop one of the best coal exploration companies in Nigeria with equipment including brand-new Boart Long-year drilling rigs, mobile laboratory, mobile workshop, Porta-cabin – everything that is required”.
“We cannot stop exploring. We continue exploring. Yes, we have finished the first phase. Nigeria has about 380 million tonnes of coal. We have done seismic mining successfully and we are now mining commercially.
According to him, “We are now providing coal to our cement manufacturers. The millions of dollars they paid before to foreign countries to buy coal, they now conserve it and then use our local coal, which is very good. This is one of the dividends of our efforts – the contribution of Eta Zuma Group to the Nigerian economy”.
Continuing, Dr. Ezuma averred that “I was the motivator to the richest black man in the world – Alhaji Aliko Dangote – going into coal mining. So, every other private organisation today that is mining coal is doing it because we went ahead and succeeded. We have shown that it can be done”.
“If you include our capacity, their capacity and that of other small players, you are talking about something in the region of 200,000 tonnes of coal per month and it is increasing every day because requirements are increasing. If you take it at $80 or $100 per tonne including shipping, you are talking about $20m. So we are saving the country $200m every month on importation of coal.
“Dangote has opened two mines now. He is mining his own. The imports have drastically reduced. The idea is that we support him to ensure that he does not import again. He wants to support local businesses like ours. In fact, he told me personally that he would be taking a minimum of 20,000 tonnes from me every month irrespective of his own mines.
“We are happy with the Dangote Group and the president of the group himself. He has given us various support. He even pays us in advance to enable us to buy huge equipment.
He revealed further that “Now everybody is doing it. BUA is calling me. They want to go into coal. They are now retrofitting their Sokoto cement plant. They want coal. They will retrofit their Edo cement plant to use coal. Even Lafarge plant in Ewekoro is on coal. They are also doing Port Harcourt coal”.
“We are very happy for more companies to come into this sector. That was our aim. Our aim was not to mine it and keep it alone. It is too big. We have 380 million tonnes of coal, proven. So, if you are mining one million tonne every year, we will require 380 years to mine the whole coal,” Dr. Ezuma said.
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