20 January 2015, Lagos – Potential licencees willing to engage in the mining of coal across coal belts in Nigeria are now required to possess bankable and tenable coal-fired power plant to qualify for the award of coal mining licences. Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo stated that the new condition was embedded to encourage coal prospectors to develop and run power plants using coal from the blocks they will develop and mine in Nigeria.
Nebo explained at a recent town hall meeting in Abuja that the government has said that in the new conditions, investors in coal mining should be willing to build coal power plants to service Nigerians, other than mining for exportation.
He noted that the condition was embedded after careful considerations of the status of the country’s coal mining industry by both ministries of power and solid minerals development.
According to him, Nigeria with her huge coal deposits across three key belts; Gombe, Kogi and Enugu, would through the new condition, renew her policy thrust in coal to power to ensure a robust fuel mix for power generation, starting from 2015.
Nebo who stated that incessant vandalism of the country’s gas pipelines by vandals had pushed the government to place good priority on expanding Nigeria’s energy sources to include coal, solar, wind and hydro amongst others, explained that the new condition will be judiciously implemented.
“Like they said, necessity is the mother of all invention. That has now driven us to begin to think resourcefully to ensure that Nigeria will never be held hostage again by pipeline vandals.
It is going to take time to develop the coal plants as well as the hydro plants but we have agreed at the ministry of power and solid minerals not to grant licenses for coal mining without any plan to construct coal fired plant,” he said.
The federal government recently said Nigeria has about 2.8 billion metric tonnes of coal deposits left untapped for years now.
The government also stated that the use of these coal deposits, amongst other renewable energy sources to generate electricity for Nigeria can alleviate instances of vandalism of petroleum pipelines.
Nebo had said while signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Atlas Petroleum Corporation for the development of a coal-to-power plant that Nigeria needs to harness all of its potential energy sources in developing her power sector.
Asides Atlas Petroleum whose Chairman, Chief Arthur Eze had said at the MoU signing ceremony, would deliver on project, a 1000 megawatts (MW) coal power plant, another investor with interest in developing a 3000MW coal power plant in the country, is Zuma Energy, which has also requested that all the investment incentives currently enjoyed by investors in conventional energy sources like gas, be extended to coal power generation as well.
– This Day