You are here: HomeBusiness2022 08 22Article 582059

Business News of Monday, 22 August 2022


Why Nigeria rejected Telsa’s bid to mine raw lithium

Minister of Mines and Steel Development,  Olamilekan Adegbite Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite

The Federal Government rejected Tesla’s offer to purchase raw lithium from the country because it is no longer interested in allowing foreign companies to mine the nation’s mineral resources, ship them out without the addition of local value.

The government also believes that instead of exporting these mineral resources, foreign investors should rather be encouraged to cite manufacturing plants in the country, use the resources as raw materials to produce within the country to create jobs and grow the nation’ gross domestic product (GDP).

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, who spoke at a summit in Abuja tagged: “Leveraging Future Minerals for Sustainable Development, said Adegbite said global focus has shifted to developing a low-carbon economy that would utilise future minerals.

He said: “Luckily, Nigeria is richly endowed with critical minerals. Lithium and tantalite are found in parts of the extensive pegmatite belts of Nigeria. Lithium is mined by artisanal miners in Kogi, Kwara, Ekiti and Cross River states. Tantalite, tin and nickel are found in Jos, Nasarawa, Kogi, and several other states. A large amount of rare earth minerals ore was discovered in the pegmatite and granites of Nigeria. Graphite is found in Kaduna State.”

The minister recalled that during the summit in Dubai where several countries, investors and mining companies were represented, Tesla approached Nigeria with a proposal of investing in the mining sector to enable it export Nigeria’s lithium which is of high quality out of the country for the manufacturing of batteries for electric cars but the government rejected the offer. He said they’d rather come and build the industry in the country and produce the batteries.

Adegbite said: “Anything that is mined in Nigeria must have value addition to the country; we must try to use them within Nigeria than exporting them. When I was in Saudi Arabia, we were approached by Tesla, a lot of its battery companies were there and they approached Nigeria, they were interested in our Lithium and I said no, we don’t want to export lithium from Nigeria, come to Nigeria, come and establish your factory plant. Mine the lithium, produce the batteries and then you can export that, gone are the days when we would export raw minerals.”

So, we are encouraging investors to come in to mine or process.”

He explained that electric vehicles and battery storage would account for about half of the energy minerals demand over the next two decades, spurred by the increasing demand for battery materials. Battery storage minerals primarily comprise copper, cobalt, lithium, nickel, platinum group minerals, and to a lesser extent, aluminium, chromium, graphite, manganese, rare earth elements and zinc. Mineral demand from electric vehicles and battery storage is predicted to grow between 10 and 30 times by 2040.

Adegbite also said: “We cannot be left out of the global rush to develop our vast deposits of these mineral resources. This administration has taken so many fundamental steps to explore our deposits of these minerals to salvage the low electricity generation by diversifying the country’s energy mix towards renewable alternatives. Nigeria has no choice but to join the global race in developing the critical minerals value chain.”

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) SoundCore Group, Tony Nwakalor said the time for the sector to blossom is now, taking into consideration recent happening in the oil sector with oil majors exiting Nigeria and opting for renewable energy projects rather than new crude oil exploration in the country.

He said the solid minerals sector is becoming the goose that lays the golden egg for the economy, replacing oil and gas as the main stay of our economy medium to long term.