Nigeria’s president pleads investors to mine lithium responsibly

Nigeria’s president pleads investors to mine lithium responsibly

Nigeria’s president pleads investors to mine lithium responsibly 150 150 Batteries International

June 7, 2024: President Bola Tinubu has appealed to Chinese investors not to leave communities ‘in ruins’ at an inauguration of Nigeria’s largest lithium processing plant.

His comments came on May 10 in Abuja where he also hailed the country’s attractiveness for foreign investment.

Joining him at the inauguration was Hi Yongwei, chairman of Avatar, the Chinese firm that built the plant which processes about 4,000 tonnes daily.

Also present was Zhenhua Pei, chairman of Canmax Technologies which is responsible for over 30% of global battery material production. He announced a further new investment of $200 million for another lithium processing plant in Nasarawa State.

Welcoming the inauguration of the plant and the announcement of new investment plans, president Tinubu also urged the Chinese firms to prioritize environmental protection, community engagement, and corporate social responsibility initiatives as integral parts of their operations.

“There are other aspects of lithium that you are exploring in the country, especially in battery production,” he said.

“But you must not leave the community in ruins as you explore for our high-grade minerals. You must be concerned with cooperation and always care for the community.”

Canmax Technologies is a $500 million dollar turnover company with enough potential to mine lithium in the region for the next 15 to 20 years, said Abdullahi Sule, the Nasarawa state governor.

Also present at the inauguration was Nigeria’s minister of solid minerals, Dele Alake who said the ministry has embarked on proactive measures to address the risks posed by abandoned mines across the country, left behind by colonialists in the 1950s and 1960s.

“We are in the process of putting in place remedial measures, converting some of them into constructive uses, like farming and irrigation,” he said.

“To ensure that companies operating in this sector no longer abandon the mines after they have finished operations, it is part of our requirements that for licencing fresh applicants, there must be concrete remediation plans that are viable and working before any application is approved for mining.”

Recently, Nigeria has been seeking to regulate its mining operations to better benefit from the mineral resources the country produces. Global demand for lithium has surged and this coupled with minimal government presence in remote areas has led to rampant illegal mining which, in turn, has armed militia groups in the north of the county.

Just last month a joint team of soldiers and police raided a market in Kishi, in the country’s southwestern Oyo State arresting 32 individuals, including two Chinese nationals.

Locals said the market, once known for selling farm produce, has become a centre for illicit trade in lithium mined in hard-to-reach areas.