OrderPaper Today- The House of Representatives Committee on Mines will embark on a fact-finding visit to Enugu coal mining sites and other coal mining sites across the country to evaluate their revenue generating potential to the federal government.
The lawmakers, during plenary on Thursday, also directed the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to fully commence the planned reactivation and resuscitation of the coal industries in Nigeria.
These are some of the resolutions of a motion of urgent national importance presented by Mr. Nnoli Nnaji (PDP, Enugu).
Leading debate on the motion, Mr. Nnaji explained that Nigeria stands a chance to generate huge sums of money that could turn the nation’s economic fortunes around.
He noted that the country has coal in abundance in Enugu; in Delta State; in Benue State; in Nasarawa State and Gombe State which he said also has some “reasonable quantity of coal deposit.”
The lawmaker recalled that in 1999, the Federal Government established a policy and legislation that deregulated mineral exploration and exploitation, thus opening the coal mining to private sector participation with the Nigerian Coal Corporation (NCC) in a joint venture arrangement, leading to issuance of licenses to private investors by the President Obasanjo government.
“The coal generated a lot of revenue for Nigeria between the years 1916 and 1970 when it was one of Nigeria’s major revenue earners, before its decline with the discovery of crude oil. This resulted in the subsequent abandonment of the massive infrastructures at the mines managed by the then Nigerian Coal Corporation,’ he continued.
Going further, he disclosed that “Nigeria still holds large coal reserves estimated to be at least 2 billion metric tonnes.”
The House will also investigate issuance of licenses in coal mining blocks to investors in order to find out why they have not commenced mining of the blocks allocated to them and determine if their memorandum of understanding should be reviewed and re-issued to more competent companies.
The representatives also called on the government to take cognizance of the various environmental impacts, health challenges and other hazardous effects on the host communities, to ensure that their safety is paramount, once the coal mining project is reactivated.
Lastly, the legislators asked the federal government to consider liaising and partnering with state governments of the mining areas, as well as the community, on all matters concerning the resuscitation, to ensure provision of basic socio-economic needs, infrastructural development, generation of power and above all, increase in job creation.