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Lithium Mining, Nigeria’s Economic Hope

Nigeria has significant lithium deposits in states like Nasarawa, Abuja, Kwara, Plateau and lots more yet to be explored. Exploration in Nasarawa suggests a monthly production capacity of over 20 tons per mine, with potential annual economic value of ₦244.5 billion which could run into the state government coffers. Proper management and adherence to international standards could boost employment and revenue. Developing a lithium battery and electric car industry could reduce carbon emissions and promote technological innovation. Hence, harnessing these resources responsibly promises economic, sustainable, and environmental benefits, requiring strategic stakeholder action.

Lithium mining is critical for producing lithium, essential for electric vehicle batteries, renewable energy storage, and electronics. Nigeria and Africa, rich in lithium-bearing minerals like spodumene, petalite, and lepidolite, have significant potential amid rising global demand. Nigeria, with vast untapped lithium reserves, can leverage this opportunity. Nwaobi and Nzene (2023)

Extensive surveys confirm the feasibility of lithium mining in Nigeria, supported by skilled labor and favorable regulations. The industry is poised for growth, attracting investors and potentially positioning Nigeria as a key global player with substantial export opportunities. By meeting international standards and forming strategic alliances, Nigeria can significantly contribute to global lithium supply and its own economic growth. Table 1 below shows some few states in Nigeria with Lithium deposit.

Table 1: Various States in Nigeria with Lithium deposit

S/N State Reserve Estimate
1 Nasarawa State Infer
2 Abuja (Kuje LGA etc) Infer
3 Kwara State (Moro LGA, Asa LGA etc) Infer
4 Plateau State (Kanke, Panshin etc) Infer

GLOBAL LITHIUM PRODUCERS

Global lithium production is dominated by Australia, Chile, Argentina, and China, but these countries can’t meet rising demand. Africa, led by Zimbabwe, is gaining attention for its substantial lithium deposits. Nigeria, with newly discovered high-grade lithium, joins other African nations with active mines. Previously, Nigeria only had low-grade lithium associated with other minerals. In 2019, Nigeria produced 50 metric tons of low-grade lithium, far less than Zimbabwe’s 1,200 metric tons, highlighting Nigeria’s emerging status in the lithium industry. (Nzene & Nwaobi, 2023). Top ten producers of Lithium is seen in Figure 1 below with the absence of Nigeria.

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Figure 1: Top ten countries with largest lithium reserves in the world in 2022. Source: Butt et al (2022)

Nigeria’s phasing out of fuel subsidies may increase petroleum costs, pushing households and businesses to seek eco-friendly alternatives like lithium-ion batteries. Domestic lithium production could reduce battery costs, promoting cleaner energy and supporting Nigeria’s net-zero emissions goal by 2060. Encouraging local lithium processing can create jobs, boost revenue, and attract global trade partners. Interest from companies like Tesla and China’s Ming Xin highlights Nigeria’s potential in the global lithium market.

Nigeria’s significant lithium deposits are mainly in Kwara, Nassarawa, Kaduna, Osun, Kogi, and Ekiti, with notable sites in Iwajowa, Kaima, and Gbugbu. Dr. Abdulrazaq Garba of the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency highlighted the high grade of Nigeria’s lithium, with lithium oxide content between one to thirteen percent. This high-quality, hard rock lithium has attracted substantial foreign investor interest. Tunji (2022)

BENEFITS OF LITHIUM MINING

Lithium mining in Nigeria offers numerous benefits, including job creation and increased foreign investment, which can boost economic growth. It can drive infrastructure development, increase tax revenue, and stimulate local economies. The industry can spur the growth of downstream industries like battery manufacturing, improve the trade balance, and foster ancillary businesses. Additionally, it promotes technology transfer, enhances international relations, and contributes to GDP growth. Lithium mining can also enhance regional integration, diversify the economy, attract skilled labor, and provide opportunities for social development, such as education and healthcare in local communities.

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DISCUSSION OF LITHIUM ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION

Lithium mining in Nigeria has immense economic potential. In 2023, 1 kg of lithium priced at ₦20,375 means a container of 500 bags (50 kg each) totals ₦509,375,000. With an estimated production of 20 tons per month (40 trucks), annual revenue reaches ₦244,500,000,000. This substantial revenue underscores the opportunity for Nigeria to become a key global lithium player. To achieve this, enhanced data collection and exploration activities are crucial. Ebikemefa, C.E., & Basu, M. (2024)

RECOMMENDATIONS

The various recommendations to the governemnt entails the following: enforcing strict laws to curb illegal lithium mining and supporting regulated international lithium trading to boost economic growth. The government should embrace electric car production and technology sharing with foreign investors, encourage nationwide exploration through partnerships and incentives, and also, invest in infrastructure for efficient lithium transportation.

CONCLUSION

Lithium mining offers pathways to economic prosperity, technological innovation, and ecological preservation, crucial for national development agendas. Strategic use of lithium resources can lead the transition to clean energy solutions and foster inclusive, sustainable development for future generations.

REFERENCES

  • Butt, F.S.; Lewis, A.; Chen, T et al. (2022): Lithium Harvesting from the Most Abundant Primary and Secondary Sources: A Comparative Study on Conventional and Membrane Technologies. Membranes 12, 373. https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes12040373
  • Ebikemefa, C.E., & Basu, M. (2024): Benefits of lithium mining to Nigeria’s economic development. Innovare Journal of Social Sciences, Vol 12, Issue 1,2024, ISSN – 2347-5544
  • Tunji, Samuel. (2022): High-grade lithium discovered in Nigeria attracting investors – FG:https://punchng.com/high-grade-lithium-discovered-in-nigeria-attracting-investors-fg/\
  • Nwaobi and Nzene (2023) Lithium – A Potential Game Changer For The Nigerian Mining Sector https://www.mondaq.com/nigeria/mining/1329866/lithium—a-potential-game-changer-for-the-nigerian-mining-sector

Ebikemefa E. Clinton

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