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Chuks Udo Okonta
The Nasarawa State government and the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) are set to partner on a lithium processing policy that would ensure that Lithium mined in the State is processed locally instead of exporting it raw.
The processing policy is in line with NASENI’s drive to encourage the processing of Strategic Solid Minerals and particularly to ensure that batteries are produced locally for both electric vehicles as well as other energy storage applications.
This was disclosed when the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State, Engr. Abdullahi A. Sule paid a courtesy visit to Dr. Bashir Gwandu, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NASENI at the Agency’s headquarters in Abuja at the weekend. Nasarawa state is one of the states acknowledged to have potentially the largest deposits of lithium in Nigeria.
Recently NASENI has made headlines on its efforts to encourage investors and Nigerian lithium offtakers from around the world to come and partner with it to process various combinations of lithium into batteries locally. This will include lithium processing from mineral crushing and extraction all the way to final products that can be used both locally and also export to other countries.
Some companies from China have already started visiting NASENI as a response to the call. Dr. Gwandu disclosed that NASENI will partner with other government agencies such as Rural Electricity Agency (REA), Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) and other investing institutions on this effort.
He said he was pleased that the Nasarawa state governor is coming to collaborate with NASENI in this regard. A number of companies have indicated interested in investing in Nasarawa state to process lithium in various quantities ranging from 1,000-3,000 tonnes per day. So far, almost 6,000 tonnes per day are projected to be processed daily in Nasarawa alone.
On his part, Governor Sule said the companies have already indicated interest to process the 6,000 tonnes per day in Nasarawa state, adding that other states such as Kebbi, Kwara, etc., might also attract such kind of companies and investments, and there is need for proper coordination, and for all hands to be on deck to ensure that Nigeria takes its place by being recognized as one of the largest lithium producers in the world.
The Governor added that there is something happening that is akin to Gold Rush which he termed ‘Lithium Rush” happening in his state and this is because lithium price in the world market has jumped from $6,000 per metric tonnes to $78,000 per metric tonnes. “Nasarawa state has a large quantum of Lithium and hence the need to have a better working synergy with NASENI for purposeful exploration, extraction and processing.”
According to Engr. Sule, NASENI is him, considering the number of projects that are adding value to the economy of his state, urging that the NASENI Solar in Gora may be used as lithium processing and battery production plant considering its proximity to the raw materials and also the proximity to the NASENI Solid Minerals institute which is also located in Nasarawa town in the same state.
While promising to give the Agency necessary support, he called for more collaborations with the State as it plans a second economic summit that would be tagged “Lithium Rush Summit”.
The EVC stated that during recent visit to Nasarawa he had encouraged the Institute to allow the use of its machines by the local communities and small companies for efficient utilization and capacity building and for economic development.
The governor who stated that he heard that the Agency was planning on building an airport, urged it to utilise the State’s cargo airport for evacuation of its products.
While responding further to His Excellency Governor Sule, Dr. Gwandu disclosed that NASENI does not have any plan to build an airport but is working on establishing an MRO/ARO as part of our efforts to develop capacity for both maintenance and eventual aircrafts parts production to service aerospace industry which is likely to be sited in Abuja in view of its location and electricity supply.
He promised that NASENI will actively participate in any conference by the State with regard to lithium. He said NASENI Institutes have industrial machineries and other equipment and workforce that were readily available to lead Nigeria to industrialize and achieve a diversified economy but doing this requires huge funds outlay to fulfil the Agency’s mandate.
He requested the governor to be one of the ambassadors of NASENI in NGF. He said NGF holds key to the release of NASENI’s held up funds.
Moreover, he said the governors support is key to enabling the Agency carry out its works in the areas of science, technology and innovation (STI), geared towards the industrial development at the States.