Exclusive interview with Dr Innocent Ezuma, CEO, ETA Zuma, Nigeria – speaker at iPAD Nigeria Mining Forum in Abuja
Some background and history on the Eta-zuma Group West Africa Ltd:
The company Eta-zuma Group West Africa Ltd is a fully private owned Nigerian registered company which commenced operations in Nigeria about 7 years ago. It is a conglomerate of other component companies with specific business lines and interests such as; ZUMA ENERGY LTD (power generation with more emphasis on coal to power generation, though there is a 400MW gas power project in progress), ZUMA 828 COAL LTD (coal mining), EMI LTD (solid minerals exploration), ZUMA STEEL LTD (steel production). The Executive Chairman of the Group is Dr. Innocent Ezuma who spent over 20 years in Diaspora (Ukraine) and was fired by the zeal to contribute to national development as provoked by former President Obasanjo in his diaspora engagement programme in 2000, to return to Nigeria and hence the beginnings of his business enterprise in the country. He draws from his vast business experiences in Ukraine especially in the Solid Minerals Sector.
How would you describe your role in the mining industry?
Our business activities centers mostly around the Solid Minerals Sector; either we are exploring solid minerals, developing mines as in our coal mines and limestone mine in Kogi and adding value to mineral products as we turn coal to power and briquettes and iron ore into steel. Clearly we have a major role to play in the mining industry, both as investor and operator
Any specific projects in the mining industry that you are involved in that you are particularly excited about?
Yes, we are involved in coal mining at our 3 mining licenses in Kogi State with a reserve of 380 million metric tons. Nigeria has over 2.7 billion metric tons of coal which can be harnessed to generate power which is in high demand and energy for other industrial, commercial and domestic needs. Our coal will be used largely in generating power for which we have a license to generate 1200MW of coal power. The project is located at Itobe, Kogi State. We look forward to helping the actualization of government’s policy to generate 30% of the country’s power needs from coal. We will, in the future, build more coal to power plants and supply coal to other power projects. We are excited about all these possibilities.
What do you see as the main challenges in the industry?
Challenges in the industry include; difficulty to raise long tenured, cheaper capital funds for mining projects which are capital intensive. Government and financial institutions need to address this. We cannot expect foreign investment into the sector when there is apathy in attracting domestic funds. Other challenges include; the menace of illegal mining, security challenges, need for qualitative human capital which has declined following decades of inactivity n the sector, lack of transportation and other infrastructure to facilitate mining activities and reduce the burden currently placed on mining companies, community needs and at times over placed community expectations that tend to undermine community investor relationship.
Why did you decide to partner with iPAD Nigeria Mining Forum?
We decided to work with iPAD Nigeria Mining Forum because it is appropriate we partner because of its focus in our core business – solid minerals development in all of its aspects.
What will be your message at the event?
Our message would be that the solid minerals sector holds a lot of potential for the industrial revolution of the country, this is the time to put an end to the lip service of diversification of the economy and recognize the potential of the solid minerals sector as a key platform to diversify the economy and therefore give the sector all the support that is required for the potentials to be actualized.