NIGERIA has coal in commercial quantity yet it virtually lives in darkness; and businesses die due to lack of power. It is estimated that the mineral resource found in large quantities in Enugu, Kogi, Gombe and Nassarawa states is enough to provide electricity to the country and for export.
Coal is highly underutilised in Nigeria despite that it can grow the non oil economy if policy makers can understand the huge impact it can create in the economy.
This is the summation of a former Professor of Ceramics Technology at the Ambrose Alli University, Edo State and Managing Director of Epina Technologies Limited, Patrick Oaikhinan.
He also noted that the country was losing huge revenue, about $132 billion yearly, through the neglect of the abundant solid mineral deposit.
According to him, coal is a major contributor to the United States’ economy and it can do the same for Nigeria if properly harnessed.
Oaikhinan, who spoke to our correspondent in his office in Lagos yesterday, wondered why the government has failed to develop coal to halt epileptic power supply in the nation, unemployment and poverty.
“Coal has played a crucial role in industrialisation since time immemorial and it has a significant impact on domestic economies in the world. It has been the key factor in shaping economies across the globe and determining the pace of development for several nations. The monumental amount of coal consumed by the world is used in a wide range of applications such as generating electricity, the production of steel, iron, power, and several manufacturing and transportation industries, but this huge resource is wasting in Nigeria”.
Furthermore, he said the global market for clay which is also in abundance in Nigeria but untapped in 2018 is worth about $216.9 million.
Oaikhinan said he could not quantify what the nation had lost because policy makers lacked the will to exploit natural resources like coal, depending solely on oil revenue.
On other mineral resources, he said the value of Feldspar found everywhere in Nigeria is worth $3.2 billion; while Kaolin deposits across the nation can fetch $5.2 billion, Silica Mica accounts for $678.2 million, Phosphate is $83.11billion and Silicate $600 million.
He regretted that all these are not tapped but left to waste without exploitation, adding that the mineral deposits are high employment and wealth generating agent, with a large with capacity to halt rural urban drift and boost the economy.
Asked how skills can be developed to exploit mineral deposits, he said the government must know the volume of the mineral deposits and how long they will last, its characterisation, including physical and mechanical properties.
He said it was only when the facts of the mineral deposits are known that a business profile could be prepared, itemising what each mineral can be used for so investors could be wooed to come and invest.
He criticised the practice of road shows where he alleged that neither experts nor professionals are included in the teams to answer technical questions that may be asked by would-be investors.
Asked to set agenda for the incoming Solid Minerals Minister, Oaikhinan said the first thing he would advise him is to ascertain how many Nigerians are experts in the solid mineral sector, invite them for a business discussion and form a small team that will come out with a road map for solid mineral development.
He added that in that road map he will be advised to talk on their characterisation, extent of deposit and business profile.
He said a minister needs that kind of document to attend investor forum or road show to woo investors or business forum.