Last update:

Coal mining in Enugu district, Nigeria

Coal mines at sites in Onyeama, Iva Valley, Ogbete, and Okpara, now abandoned, still cause environmental, public health injustices as locals combat efforts to sell the properties for more mining and coal power processing.


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, mining exploration began in present day Enugu State in 1909, with production at the mines in Onyeama, Ogbete, Iva Valley and Okpara climbing from 25, 511 tons in1916 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 it finally folded in 2002. The former miners were not laid off, nor was their employment terminated. The only legacy of mining they  have is the Colliery Quarters near Iva Valley that they live.

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Coal mining in Enugu district, Nigeria
State or province:Enugu
Location of conflict:Okpara, 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 commodities:Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project details

1,000 - 1,200 MW coal power generating plant to be developed

See more
Level of Investment:3,700,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:1970
Company names or state enterprises:HTG-Pacific Energy Consortium from China - To generate electricity from coal mining
Nigerian Coal Corporation (NCC) from Nigeria
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Mines and Steel Development
Enugu State Government
Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth, Nigeria
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Development 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-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Land Use Act

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

ERA/FoEN website

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

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

Oxford business group website

Nigeria considers coal to ease power shortage

Nigeria | 9 Sept 2013
[click to view]

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

[2] The Nation. Contaminated blessing! How coal mining polluted water sources, vegetation, soil in Enugu (2020)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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

Meta information
Contributor:Maria Obaseki, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, [email protected]; updated by Dalena Tran, ICTA-UAB, [email protected]
Last update08/01/2021
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.