The President disclosed this at a one-day Workshop on the Solid Minerals Sector Development, which he presided over at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.
The workshop was organised to attract the commitments of stakeholders to the Solid Minerals sector and make it a driver for job, growth, indutrialisation, and wealth creation.
During the event, a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, on Coal to Power was signed for the development of Ezinmo Coal Block in Enugu and a 1000 megawatts coal power generating plant.
The MoU was signed between the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and HTG-Pacific Energy Consortium for the development of the Ezinmo Coal Bricks.
“It is our intention that 30 per cent of our electricity generation should come from coal given the available environmentally friendly technology.
“Nigeria is endowed with abundant coal reserve of the required quality necessary for power generation and there is no reason why we should not explore the sector.
“I welcome the growing synergy between the Ministries of Mines and Steel Development and Power which is made manifest in their collaborative efforts to attract investors to coal fired oil generation opportunities.
“We expect the co-operations to continue until we get the desired destination in terms of our power needs,” he said.
Speaking on the MoU, the Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo said it was on the utilisation of the mining licence, granted by the Federal Government for the Ezinmo coal block.
He said the licence was granted to an indigenous company with a Chinese partner, HTG-Pacific Energy Consortium, for the exploitation and mining of the coal block at Ezinmo.
Mr. Nebo said Ezinmo was a very large coal block which ranged from Enugu State to Benue State. He said beyond mining of the coal block, the company would build 1,000 megawatts power plant, which made the agreement Coal to Power all the way.
The Minister said that the Coal to Power plant would be cited in the same location with the mine, specifically, Nsukka, thereby saving the cost of transportation.
He said after the signing of the MoU, his Ministry would intensify efforts to ensure that the company gets a Power Purchase Agreement, PPA, that would authorise them to build the coal-fired power plant.
The Chairman of Pacific Energy Consortium, Adedeji Adeleke, said with the signing of the MoU, the companies would commence exploration immediately.
Mr. Adeleke said the estimated investments for the developing of the coal mine and the building of the power plant would be about $3.7 billion (about N590 billion).
In a presentation on the Overview of the Solid Minerals Sector in Nigeria, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mohammed Sada, said mining spanned over 2400 years in the country.
He said organised mining, however, started in 1902 which resulted in Nigeria becoming the first largest producer and exporter of tin and 8th largest producer and exporter of columbite.
Mr. Sada attributed the decline in the mining sector to the government’s nationalisation policy in 1970.
He said the policy led to the departure of the major mining companies due to unfavourable policies and the neglect of the sector by successive governments.
Sada said with the efforts of the Jonathan’s administration, recent exploration activities indicated the occurrence of 44 solid mineral resources. He said a total of 4125 extant mineral licences were held by operators following the revocation of non-performing ones.
The minister said the sector had continuously recorded annual increases in revenue receipt.
Mr. Sada identified challenges of the sector to include lack of adequate mineral projects with verifiable geosciences data and lack of proper fiscal regime.
He said the sector also has the challenge of non availability of adequate professional and skilled local manpower and unequipped inspectorate to ensure safe and environmentally friendly mining activities.
Vice President Namadi Sambo, who closed the event, assured the impediments of infrastructure of the sector, particularly in the area of rail and water transportation, are being addressed by government.
– Premium Times