- Nigeria holds large coal deposits from the East to the Northern parts of the country, estimated to be at least 2 billion metric tonnes.
- The government has recently placed a high priority on utilising these resources to increase Nigeria’s electricity generating capacity. In 2016, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development announced that it was working in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to increase Nigeria power generation to include 30% coal in its power mix.
- Nigeria’s goal is to revitalise the coal mining industry and expand power generation by attracting companies to develop these large coal resources and construct coal-fired generating plants that will connect to the country’s electrical distribution grid.
- Out of 28 coal blocks identified across 12 States, Kogi State leads with 8 blocks while Enugu State has 6 blocks. Coal mining is currently active in Kogi and Gombe States, which were the focus areas of the study commissioned by 350.org.
- In Kogi State coal mining is undertaken by Dangote Cement and ETA Zuma while in Gombe State it is undertaken by Ashaka Cement.
- Dangote runs the largest coal mining operation in Nigeria in Ankpa to power the production of cement. Dangote is actively mining coal in Onupi, Awo Akplokuta, Awo Ojuwo, Awo Ate, Ajobe Afeanyaka and Utala
- Ashaka Cement Plc, a company owned by the French company Lafarge mines coal in Maigaga, Akko Local Government Area of Gombe State
- ETA Zuma Group mines coal in Itobe, Ankpa Local Government Area of Kogi state under Zuma 828 Coal Limited
- The coal mining in Gombe and Kogi states has affected the livelihoods of local communities, degrading soil and water resources.
- In the Dangote mining sites, there is high lead and ammonia content in the water (from samples obtained in streams and boreholes) as well as high total dissolved solids (TDS) and low pH (acidity). Soil samples from the community farmlands reveal the presence of heavy metals, and that the soil is acidic.
- Coal mining activities by ETA Zuma Group has led to the pollution of water sources with heavy metals being present and the water being rendered acidic and highly toxic. There are also high levels of copper, cadmium, chromium, phosphates, manganese in soil samples within 10 metres of the mining pit in Okobo.
- In the Dangote Coal mining sites, the host community have complained of dust and smoke as a result of spontaneous combustion of coal, a phenomenon which occurs in surface mining; there are increased cases of respiratory diseases in the community. In the ETA Zuma sites, studies have shown that the air in these areas is heavily polluted and contributes to a lot of cases of respiratory diseases.
- Lafarge (the parent company of Ashaka Cement) states that they have continued to reduce net CO2 emissions per ton of cement in its Nigeria operations. They also claim that they have focused on dust control and reduced emissions to as low as 30n/mg3 (while the Nigerian government’s standard is 100 n/mg3). They, however, don’t state how this was achieved or make reference to their coal mining operations.
- According to ETA Zuma an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been concluded and approval obtained while an Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation Plan (EPRP) study has been conducted and approval is being awaited. We were however unable to obtain copies of these assessments and plans.
- In its 2018 Sustainability Report, Dangote Cement claimed to be taking steps towards the adoption of greener energy sources. However, there is no evidence that this has been actualized as the company is fast-tracking the use of coal in its cement factories. More damning is that there is no evidence that an EIA was undertaken for Dangote’s mining activities as stipulated by law.
Angles for pitching stories
- Coal mining in Nigeria continues to negatively affect the lives of local communities
- Africa’s richest man ranked as one of the largest polluters in his home country, Nigeria
Potential Outlets (Local, Regional and International)
- TV (BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN)
- Radio (BBC, VOA)
- Newspapers (The Punch, Vanguard, Mail & Guardian, The Nation, The Guardian, This Day, African Herald Express, Africa Business)
- Online (Africa Confidential, Africa.com, All Africa.com)
Draft Media Statement
Title: A shift from coal mining is urgently needed to protect the lives of rural communities in Nigeria
Lagos, 25th May 2020 – A study commissioned by the international movement, 350.org has shown that coal mining in Nigeria’s Kogi and Gombe states has led to extensive environmental degradation including the contamination of air, water and soil which continue to negatively affect the health of local communities.
The coal miners fingered in the study are Aliko Dangote’s Dangote Cement, ETA Zuma’s Zuma 828 Coal Limited and Lafarge’s Ashaka Cement. The three companies despite stating lofty “green” and environmental sustainability positions on their websites and investor documents including annual and sustainability reports, continue to practice coal mining in a way that totally disregards the health and livelihoods of local communities and its effects on the global climate crisis.
Landry Ninteretse, the Managing Director of 350Africa.org said,
“It is already well known how dirty coal as a source of energy is, so it was particularly surprising that our study revealed that a company as large and respected as Dangote Cement went ahead to undertake coal mining through Dangote Coal without conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which is a mandatory requirement in Nigeria. It is therefore clear that Dangote is mining coal illegally in Kogi State.
We would like to urge the Federal Ministry of Environment of Nigeria to immediately carry out an environmental audit of all the coal mining sites in Nigeria. Furthermore, we would like to urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to immediately investigate and correct the human rights violations in coal mining communities in Nigeria particularly in Maigaga, Itobe, Onupi, Awo Akplokuta, Awo Ojuwo, Awo Ate, Ajobe Afeanyaka and Utala communities.
All mining operations especially those undertaken by multinational companies such as Lafarge and Dangote should adhere to the UN Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights.”
David Michael Terungwa, the Executive Director of GIFSEP said,
“What has been witnessed in Kogi and Gombe states is that fossil fuel companies and large corporations when in need of natural resources, initiate talks with the local community and consequently enter into agreements whose benefits are heavily skewed against the local people. These companies are benefiting greatly from the goodwill of the local community and are not honoring the agreements entered into.
There is an urgent need to review the Community Development Agreements signed between the coal mining communities and the companies in this case Ashaka Cement (Lafarge), Dangote and ETA Zuma.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has made commitments under the Paris Agreement, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which are reductions in greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where all countries that signed the UNFCCC were asked to publish their commitments to fight climate change. In order to reduce carbon emissions, Nigeria should therefore ensure the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions starting with the phasing out of coal-fired plants.
Nigeria being the largest economy in Africa should be a beacon for other African states by accelerating its national plans that would see a rapid, just transition towards 100% renewable energy for all Nigerians.
For interviews and additional information contact:
Landry Ninteretse, Managing Director – 350Africa.org
Phone +46 76 2354038
David Michael Terungwa, Executive Director – GIFSEP
Coal Mining in Kogi State by Dangote Cement
Coal Mining in Kogi State by ETA Zuma
Coal Mining in Gombe State by Ashaka Cement
Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement