Coal mining in Enugu district, Nigeria


Coal generated lots of revenue for Nigeria between the years 1916 and 1970 when it was one of Nigeria’s major revenue earners. In the south eastern part of the country exploration of the mineral began proper in present day Enugu State in 1909, with production at the mines in Onyeama, Ogbete, Iva Valley and Okpara climbing from 25, 511 tons in 1916 to an estimated 583,422 tons before a decline set in during the Nigerian Civil War which started in 1967 and ended 1970. At the end of the war most parts of the South east had been ravaged and many expatriate mining experts, mostly from Britain and Poland had left Nigeria. The exit of experts coupled with the discovery of commercial quantity of crude oil which made the government to abandon coal resulted in the neglect and subsequent abandonment of the massive infrastructure at the mines managed by the Nigerian Coal Corporation (NCC). The NCC tried to manage operations unsuccessfully for another 30 years but the game was up. It finally folded up in 2002. The former miners were not laid off, neither was their employment terminated. The only legacy of mining they have is the Colliery Quarters near Iva Valley that they live.

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Basic Data
NameCoal mining in Enugu district, Nigeria
SiteOkpara, Onyeama, Iva Valley, Ogbete in Enugu North and South Local Government Areas of Enugu State
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Coal extraction and processing
Specific CommoditiesCoal
Project Details and Actors
Project Details1,000 - 1,200 MW coal power generating plant to be developed

The domestic coal market is latently large. Besides the potential for power generation, Nigeria currently imports coals of various grades and qualities. There is also the potential for coal exports to countries such as China, Israel, Japan, Ghana, United States, Europe and India.

The Enugu Coal District covers 270,000 hectares of the coal basin.

It has supported the largest amount of commercial mining in the past. In addition to two underground mines, there are a total of 36 drill holes drilled in the area.

Previous studies have estimated the demonstrated coal resource to be 49 million averaging 2.2 metres thick. An additional 111 million non-reportable of in place coal are inferred to exist west of the old mine workings. [1]
Level of Investment (in USD)3,700,000,000
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Populationunknown
Company Names or State EnterprisesHTG-Pacific Energy Consortium from China - To generate electricity from coal mining
Nigerian Coal Corporation (NCC) from Nigeria
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Mines and Steel Development

Enugu State Government

Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEnvironmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth, Nigeria
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Other Environmental impacts
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMigration/displacement
Development of Alternatives• Federal and Enugu State governments review the sale of lands in the mining communities and engage the community folks in dialogue on all matters concerning the sale and planned commencement of coal mining

• Federal and Enugu State governments make public the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chinese company – HTG-Pacific Energy Consortium

• The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) halts the ongoing secret sale of quarters inhabited by former coal miners in Enugu, some of whom have been living in the quarters for upwards of 40 years. Families already displaced in the process should be properly rehabilitated
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Coal is a dirty energy source. The government should be investing in clean renewable energy sources.

The old coal miners and their families should not be evicted from their quarters; at worst they should be given the chance to buy the houses they have lived in for more than 40 years.
Sources and Materials

Land Use Act


Mine Water and the Environment

March 1993, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 53-61

Environmental pollution from coal mining activities in the Enugu area Anambka state Nigeria

H. I. Ezeigbo, B. N. Ezeanyim
[click to view]


I.F. Odesola, Eneje Samuel, and Temilola Olugasa

University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
[click to view]


FG, HTG-Pacific Energy set to develop coal power
[click to view]

ERA/FoEN website

Field report #356: Enugu communities apprehensive about planned resuscitation of moribund coal mines
[click to view]

Oxford business group website

Nigeria considers coal to ease power shortage

Nigeria | 9 Sept 2013
[click to view]

[1] The Citizen online: "Privatization: Enugu State takes over Nigerian Coal Corporation headquarters, hospital from BPE"
[click to view]

Media Links

A dilapidated structure at the Okpara mines
[click to view]

Other Documents

Workers at Ekulu coal mine near Enugu (1959) Source:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorMaria Obaseki, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, [email protected]
Last update12/09/2014