NASS Probe Abandoned Coal Mines, Seek Revival
The House of Representatives has condemned the abandonment of coal mining in Nigeria, saying the natural resource would have been used to address the power crisis in the country.
The House has therefore resolved to embark on a fact-finding mission to coal mines in Enugu, Kogi, Delta, Nasarawa and Gombe states.
This is contained in the resolutions passed by the House at the plenary on Thursday when it adopted a motion by Mr Nnolim Nnaji titled ‘Need to Resuscitate the Abandoned Coal Mining Sites in Nigeria.’
The lawmakers unanimously urged the Federal Government, through the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to fully commence the planned reactivation and resuscitation of the coal industry.
They also asked the government to “conduct investigation into the issuance of licences in coal mining blocks to investors in order to find out why they haven’t commenced mining of the blocks allocated to them.”
The lawmakers stated that, otherwise, the memorandum of understanding should be reviewed and re-issued to more competent investors who would effectively engage the affected communities in dialogue on all matters and ensure adequate compensations or relocation, if necessary.
In addition, the House urged the Federal Government to take cognisance of the environmental impact – water and air pollution, loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, health challenges and other hazardous effects – on the host communities, to ensure that their safety “once the coal mining project is reactivated.”
The House also urged the government to consider partnering the state governments of the mining areas and the communities in dialogue on all matters concerning the resuscitation, “to ensure provision of basic socio-economic needs, infrastructural developments, generation of power and above all increase in job creation.”
The lawmakers mandated the House Committee on Mines to “embark on a fact fact-finding visit to Enugu coal mining sites, being the foremost site where coal was discovered, including other coal mining sites across the country.”
Nnaji recalled that in 1909, coal was discovered in Enugu, covering about 270,000 hectares.
He said previous studies estimated the demonstrated coal resource to be 49 million, averaging 2.2 metres thick.
“The House is concerned that despite the renewed attention brought to Nigeria’s coal industry in recent times, there has not been any major headway in the industry, as this certainly has the potential inter alia to provide employment, increase state internally generated revenue and aid in the diversification of the economy,” he said.