Sanitising Lithium Mining in Nasarawa

Nasarawa State, known as the ‘Home of Solid Minerals’, is beginning to witness the discovery of most sought-after and most attractive minerals, especially lithium; hence there is reported infiltration of illegal miners into the state mining the lithium. To sanitise the sector, Igbawase Ukumba reports that the state government has put several measures on ground 

Lithium today is the main product for all the power batteries, including solar. Nevertheless, Nasarawa State is so blessed with a huge percentage deposit of the lithium. Hitherto, Governor Abdullahi Sule is working tirelessly towards exploiting the potentials of lithium across the state, which is manifesting in the ongoing multimillion naira mining of lithium in Nasarawa Local Government Areas of the state.

At the time that fossil oil is being discouraged, and green energy is being encouraged, Nasarawa State is now beginning to have huge discoveries of lithium. Consequently, the Nasarawa State government is discussing with three different companies that are not only going to be mining lithium in Nasarawa State, but they are also going to be processing and finishing the product in the state.

Speaking as a guest at the first Regional Summit of the World Council of Civil Engineers (WCCE) in Abuja recently, Governor Abdullahi Sule pointed out that Nigeria can no longer afford a situation where raw materials were exported to be refined outside the country while importing the finished products.

“We have to reverse the same technology where we must be mining all the raw materials that we have in Nigeria and be able to go ahead and process and produce the finished products, so that if we are exporting, let us export the finished products from Nigeria to other African countries,” Sule insisted.

However, prior to the coming of Governor Sule into office, most minerals been mined in Nasarawa State, including as simple as marble and granite, were taken outside the state for processing somewhere.

But today in Nasarawa State, there is a company that is not only mining granite, but it is also producing marbles and tiles in the state. Nevertheless, still under the watch of Governor Sule, another company has been encouraged to come to Nasarawa State, coincidentally in Nasarawa town, and it is mining lithium and constructing a company to be able to process about 3,000 metric tons of lithium per day, the governor disclosed recently at a public function.

According to Sule, “by the time they complete this exercise, they are going to be producing at least one million metric tons per day of finished product in Nasarawa State.”

The governor announced that yet another private firm has approached him with the idea of investing $250 million towards building another lithium factory that has the capacity to process 18,000 metric tons per day.

He added that already, contract for the project has already been awarded to the company that built the Dangote Cement factories in Ogbajana, Ibese, as well as upgraded the Benue Cement Company.

Disturbingly, the latest discovery of commercial quantity of lithium in Nasarawa State has not only brought blessings, but also lots of challenges. In the past, there have been lithium issues, but communities have been managing it, especially around Nasarawa Local Government Area, in Udege Development Area of the state. 

It was the same with few other places. But it is alarming in the Nasarawa Local Government Area. Especially with the recent report in that area that quantities of lithium have been discovered in large number which have attracted some investors and some illegal miners, and that has become a major problem.

Consequently, Governor Abdullahi Sule convened an emergency security meeting in the Government House, Lafia to discuss the issues.

Accordingly, Sule said: “I am happy that all the parties are here so that we will be able to hear more. It will give us an understanding of the havoc activities of miners will cause on the environment.”

Following concerns raised about emerging threats to security around mining sites in parts of the state, the Nasarawa State Government entered into partnership with the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office (NMCO), to regulate mining activities in the state. This came to fore after the Director General of NMCO, Mr. Obadiah Simon Nkom, paid a courtesy visit on Governor Sule at the Government House, Lafia recently.

The NMCO was established in 2007 with the responsibility for the administration and management of mineral titles in Nigeria in accordance with Section 5 (1) of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007.

In his opening remarks, Nkom said he was in Lafia to partner the Nasarawa State Government in regulating mining activities in the state. The DG said his agency was aware of the challenges that were there in the mining sector, particularly when it comes to communities, land owners, security and operators who come in diverse ways with different perspectives, but all the target is the abundant wealth available in Nasarawa State. 

“This is the wealth that we have, and we want to take advantage of it to be a blessing to our people. But at the same time, mining must be done in a regulated manner. It must, at the end of the day to be done to be able to bring benefits not just to the communities, but to the entire state and country at large. 

“I came here to give you my unalloyed support. I am ready as much as possible to now be able to partner with you so that we will now be able to regulate the industry properly. At the end of the day, the benefits of the minerals’ wealth of Nasarawa State will be able to trickle down to all levels of government. At the end of the day, the Home of Solid Minerals will be justified, not just a name.”

In a response, Governor Sule decried the spate of unrest around mining sites mostly due to activities of illegal miners. The governor expressed appreciation over the enthusiasm and commitment shown by the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office to partner with his administration towards sanitizing mining activities in the state.

According to him, “the opportunities in the mining sector are enormous, but that steps must be taken not to waste such opportunities by encouraging illegal mining.

“A single community has accepted $700 million from a company that is investing to do mining. These are the kinds of problems that we are having. I am happy you are here to make sure we work together. We are here to look at all these indices for the betterment of your own organisation, the ministry, for Nigeria and indeed for Nasarawa State and the communities. That is just my dream. I am happy to see you with this enthusiasm and commitment for us to work together,” Sule stated. 

The Governor however requested the NMCO to always ensure prospective mining companies seeking for licenses to operate in Nasarawa State to always present their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in other to safeguard the environment. 

“As far as we are concerned, any company coming to do this huge investment, at least they should have their EIA report. I don’t know your requirements, your guidelines for issuance of license, but for a company to have a prospecting and even mining license and then come back later without the EIA, is wrong.

“In ten years, such company can cause huge damage to the community then they will go away to China and we will be looking at how to protect that community. The devastation will not come until at the end of the exercise,” he explained.

Be that as it may, perhaps it might be time up for the Chinese illegal miners operating in Nasarawa state as the People’s Republic of China and the Nasarawa State Government have set up a formidable joint task force team to checkmate activities of illegal mining across the state.

The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Governor Sule on Abuja Liaison Office, Yusuf Maiangwa, held talks with the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria in Abuja recently to that effect.

The meeting which took place at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, discussed the infiltration of Chinese illegal miners into Nasarawa State as raised by Yusuf jibrin Maiangwa. According to the Abuja Liaison SSA, Governor Abdullahi Sule was worried about activities of the illegal miners who poised a serious danger to the socio-economic well-being of people of Nasarawa state .

Responding, the People’s Republic of China Ambassador to Nigeria, represented by his deputy, Zhang Yi, welcome the idea and pledged to collaborate with the state government to addressing the menace, especially it negative impact on the ecosystem. Zhang Yi, however, advised that the state government should make available an accurate statistic of the Chinese illegal mining companies to the Embassy for possible action.


This is the wealth that we have, and we want to take advantage of it to be a blessing to our people. But at the same time, mining must be done in a regulated manner. It must, at the end of the day to be done to be able to bring benefits not just to the communities, but to the entire state and country at large

Related Articles