By NBF News
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Towards adding coal as a source of power in the country, an indigenous mining firm, Western Goldfields Limited, has signed a land lease agreement with two Ankpa communities in Kogi State to enable it to mine coal in the communities.

The consent of the communities is one of the conditions set by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, which granted the company the concession to prospect for coal in the communities.

According to the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the company, Dr. Innocent Ezuma, the company 'is set to invest $60m (about N9bn) in the first instance, in the mining of coal in the communities.'

The Lease / Grant Agreement was executed in Lokoja on Friday in the presence of the Eje of Ankpa and Chairman of Ankpa Traditional Rulers' Council, Alhaji Ahmodu Yakubu ; the affected communities' chiefs; youth and community leaders as well as representatives of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

By the consent granted to the company by the two host communities of Enjeme and Okobo, Western Goldfields has inched closer to its target of producing coal for power production within the next few months.

Yakubu described the investment plan by the Western Goldfield firm in his domain as a positive development that is going to economically affect the people positively.

He pointed out that for over 50 years; there had been illegal mining of coal in the area with no positive impact on the people, adding that the people had been neglected for a long time.

The traditional ruler said, 'We want the company to begin operations immediately in our area. My people are eager to see this fortune in their lifetime and we have harmoniously resolved all the issues we had disagreed on.

'I therefore urge the Federal Government to quickly approve the mining licence to enable the investor commence operations immediately.''

Ezuma thanked the two communities for leasing their land for the mining activity, disclosing that the company has an investment outlay of $60m for the first phase of the development of the project.

Ezuma said, 'We are grateful for this epochal agreement signing ceremony which is going to be beneficial to my company; the communities and the country at large. Our next plan is to mobilise to site in the next three months by which time we would have been granted a mining lease.

'We have already set aside the sum of $60m for the first phase of our operation. We are ready to partner with the Federal Government in her efforts to improve electricity supply.

'From our survey, there is about 100 million tonness of coal deposit here with high calorific value and low sulphur content.'

He added, 'We are proud to be associated with the efforts of the Federal Government to improve on power supply to Nigeria and we would be ready to partner the Government to boost the energy sector by supplying up to three million metric tonnes for electricity generation.

'We are confident that our investment in Kogi will boost economic activities in the state and particularly in the area of our operation. I look forward to having a good working relationship with the stakeholders.''

Negotiation between the company and three other communities are also ongoing and are expected to culminate in the signing of another set of lease agreement.