October 7, 2015
Brief History of ‘Coal Mine’ in Enugu
One can not talk about Enugu without the mentioning of the coal mine in the state which the Enugu is well known for, some historians says that coal mine started in Ogbete, while some say it started in Iva valley, others say it started in Udi ridge. All I can say is that coal mine started in Enugu, because I was able to discover another coal mine in Akwuke Atakwu area during a tour.
Historically coal mine started in Enugu when the first European settlers arrived in the area in 1909, led by a British mining engineer, Albert Kitson. Who, in his quest for silver, discovered coal, by serendipidity, in the Udi Ridge? Colonial Governor of Nigeria Frederick Lugard took keen interest in the discovery, and by 1914 the first shipment of coal was made to Britain. As mining activities increased in the area, a permanent cosmopolitan settlement emerged, supported by a railway system. Enugu acquired township status in 1917 and became strategic to British interests. Foreign businesses began to move into Enugu, the most notable of which were John Holt, Kingsway Stores, British Bank of West Africa and United Africa Company (UAC). By 1929, Enugu had become the capital of the former Eastern Region, and has since then retained its old status as the regional industrial and business hub as well as the political capital and rallying point of the Igbo people.
Mining of coal in Enugu really started in 1916 with the Ogbete mine and later other mines like the Ribadu, Onyeama and Okpara mines were opened up. During the civil war there was establishment of coal mine at Odagbor better known as Okaba coal that became the Nigeria Coal Corporation while the one in Enugu was known as Biafra Coal Corporation but at the end of the war, the two merged.
A mysterious chain of deep valleys jewelled the charming landscape of Enugu City; and steep walls of stratified rocks beatify the confines of these valleys, within which outcrop the ‘black gold’ of ancient Nigeria: the black gold that powered our railways and brought us fortune for decades.
Iva Valley is one of these valleys. The valley and its coal mines are reposed in the south-western outskirts of Enugu City, capital of Enugu State in Eastern Nigeria.
Visible from 9th Mile road is the small dingy enclave that developed as a result of coal mining in the locality and is located at the mouth of the Iva Valley, and can be seen sprawling up the steep valley walls.
Extant within the Iva Valley are the relics of ancient mine structures and activities, which include gigantic machines and mining equipments, submerged tunnels, ramps, collapsed office buildings etc.
This relic therefore constitute a picture of Nigeria’s economic past especially in regards to her energy sector; and therefore means that they’re typically historical objects which can be harnessed for historical tourism purposes, instead of being neglected for perpetual degradation and ruin.
This is therefore a call to the Enugu State Government and Nigeria at large to come to the rescue of this wonderful museum of our economic past, locked away in the depths of Enugu’s Iva Valley. The Iva Valley Coal Mine was opened in 1917 by the British colonial government of Nigeria after the Udi Mine in 1916, making it the second ever coal mine established in the city of Enugu.