Nigeria revamping coal mines to lure Indian firms

Abuja, March 14: Nigeria’s moves to revampt its moribund coal mines may be aimed at attracting investment from Indian companies as, according to industry experts, Indian companies have shown their commitment in the coal mining sector in other parts of Africa.

“That is the reason why the government has gone far in creating the necessary conditions that would attract interested foreign companies,” said Richard Mordi, a mining engineer based in the country’s capital.

Mordi is confident that if the plans to revamp the coal mines succeed, Nigeria may soon be attracting Indian companies that have showed interest in coal mining in other African countries.

According to the Indian high commission in Abuja, Nigeria has been one of the main sources of crude for India. “Nigeria is highly important for our energy security matters as we import around eight percent to 12 percent of our crude requirements from Nigeria,” a website posting of high states, adding that “in recent times, India has become the largest importer of Nigerian crude”.

This is why the Nigerian government is intent on changing the coal mining sector so that it would add other sectors to revive its ailing economy.

With increased attention to coal mining in Nigeria and India’s Jindal Power and Steel’s move into coal mining, mainly in southern Africa, it may not take long for the company’s attention to be turned to Nigeria.

Jindal officials themselves have said that they wanted to entrench their foothold in Africa. The company is already mining coal South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana. In addition, it has copper, lime stone and iron ore mines in Zambia, Madagascar and Namibia.

The Nigeria government itself is keen to boost its coal production and investors like Jindal may be very welcome because of what they have achieved in other parts of the continent.

Jindal Power and Steel, which claim to have committed $1 billion to invest in Africa, is operating a coal mine in South Africa that produces 1.5 million tonnes per annum with total reserves of 1.35 billion tonnes.

The company is also in Mozambique where it is operating the Chirodzi mine. Jindal officials say, within the next three years, they expect to triple its current production level to 10 million tonnes per annum. This will then be doubled to 20 million tonnes per annum.

In Botswana, the company is operating the Mmamabula mines with resources close to 2.7 billion tonnes.

(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at fkokutse@gmail.com)

IANS