Dangote Cement has disclosed its plan to start mining coal at Ankpa, Kogi State, in November this year.
The company said that due to acute gas shortage in the country, following disruptions of supply by militants in the Niger Delta region, it had switched its plant lines to coal to minimise cost.
Chief Executive Officer of the company, Onne van der Weijde, said that disruption to gas supply had deteriorated, adding: “These are challenging times for Nigeria and Dangote Cement but we are taking strong actions that will position the company for continuing success.
“Our coal mining initiative will benefit both the company and the Nigerian economy by reducing the need for foreign exchange and helping us to both protect existing jobs and create new ones.
The company said that many of its production lines were now capable of running entirely on coal, hoping that this development would eliminate the company’s dependence on gas supplies, imported coal and, more significantly, LPFO.
However, environmental experts say there are numerous damaging environmental impacts of coal that occur through its mining, preparation, combustion, waste storage, and transport.
According to research published on sourcewatch.org “Air pollution from coal-fired power plants includes sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter (PM), and heavy metals, leading to smog, acid rain, toxins in the environment, and numerous respiratory, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular effects.”
The pollution from coal mines is mainly due to emissions of particulate matter and gases including methane (CH4), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx), as well as carbon monoxide (CO).
The research also found that “Coal dust stirred up during the mining process, as well as released during coal transport, can cause severe and potentially deadly respiratory problems.”