Enact Policies to Control Exploration, Exportation of Lithium Production in Nigeria, FG Urged

Kasim Sumaina in Abuja

Chairman, Board of the Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF), Mr. Uba Sa’idu Malami, has renewed the quest for the formulation of intentional policies to control the exploration, exportation, mining and production of lithium in Nigeria. 

Malami noted that lithium is replacing oil and has become very strategic the world over, hence it’s the world’s new oil and Nigeria must be jealous and quick to develop intentional policies that will protect the prime mineral resource (lithium) “like we did for oil and gas decades ago.”

The Co-founder of the Geological Society of Nigeria (GSN), who disclosed this while speaking with journalists yesterday in Abuja, said that the new economic order will be largely dictated by the ability of nations to take advantage of emerging opportunities afforded by lithium resources.

According to him, Nigeria must be in full control of the entire lithium value chain as the resources could significantly control global wealth and economy of nations in the coming decades

He said that any foreign investment in lithium must be controlled in a way that prioritises the political and economic interest of the country, adding: “the current regime where a company gets a license and starts mining lithium without some other control and regulation is not in the best interest of the country.”

The Board Chair therefore called for the establishment of a special-purpose fund for the exploration of lithium in the country saying, “We must be ready and deliberate in developing funds for lithium exploration and exploitation in Nigeria, just like we have the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF). 

“A special purpose funds for lithium exploration and exploitation must be urgently made available to relevant authorities in order to ensure that Nigeria is positioned to occupy its prime place in the Committee of Nations in near future.

“Nigeria must regulate the exploration and mining of lithium, its export, processing and production of lithium powered devices,” he said, adding that in the interest of patriotism, “Nigeria must do this in order to be able to become the lithium hub for Africa.”

He pointed out that as far as emerging technology is concerned, lithium is now the new oil and, “nations that wish to make an economic leap must be smart to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by lithium, Nigeria must key into the emerging economic order being ushered-in by advancements in technology made in the energy sector using lithium.

“The Chinese are here for lithium; the Americas are here too and even the Europeans. They are all here for Nigeria’s lithium resource. 

“We must safeguard our future even though we desire foreign investment. We need to control foreign investment so that we don’t embrace investments that will take away our mineral wealth while impoverishing our people and country,” the geologist added.

He, however commended the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, for protecting the interest of Nigeria while responding to Tesla’s bid to mine and export lithium from the country. 

“Remember that Arc. Adegbite told the car manufacturing giant – Tesla that he would not grant permission for their mining bid in Nigeria unless they will establish a lithium battery manufacturing plant in Nigeria,” Malami said. 

Nigeria is home to commercial quantities of Lithium spread across states of the federation. It is mined by artisanal miners in Nassarawa, Kogi, Kwara, Ekiti and Cross River States.

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