A Chinese firm, that specialises in the exploration of lithium, Landmark Lithium Mining Company said, it is building a lithium factory in Nasarawa State, that would produce about 3000 tones of lithium per day, at an estimated cost of USD100 million.
The company has sited its lithium factory in Nasarawa, headquarters of Nasarawa Local Government Area of the state.
Governor Abdullahi Sule, who paid a visit to access progress of work at the factory site on Friday, expressed satisfaction with the level of work done so far.
The governor was therefore, confidence that the lithium factory will certainly give a boost to the industrialisation drive of his administration.
He disclosed that, with Nasarawa State said to have the highest deposit of lithium in the North Central, an expensive mineral that his in high demand in the world market, his administration will do everything possible to encourage the Chinese company to mine lithium in the locality.
“I am very satisfied in the sense that, this is what we are talking about when we talk about industrialization in Nasarawa State. We have been talking about it for a very long time, just like oil. We have been saying that we have lithium in Nasarawa State.
“Lithium is one of the most attractive and most expensive minerals that is being traded in the world market today. In fact, it has risen over ten times its price today.
“Lithium is what people are using to produce batteries, either solar batteries or even the battery you have in your car. It has been mentioned over time that Nasarawa State is one of the states with the highest quantity of lithium in the North Central part of Nigeria.
“There is also lithium in Kwara, Niger, and Kogi, but Nasarawa State has been so lucky to have the largest commercial quantity,” he stated.
He added, the investment by the company was a dream come true for his administration’s industrialisation drive and having encouraged the Chinese company to, not only start mining lithium, but to construct a factory and to pursue the value chain addition by producing finished products at the factory rather than taking the raw lithium out of the state.
“Today, we are very lucky in the drive for industrialization in the state. We encouraged this company to start mining lithium as well as the finished products here rather than taking the raw lithium out of Nasarawa State.
“Today, you can see the dream come true. They are investing over one hundred million dollars on this site, and they are constructing a brand new factory that is capable of actually processing 3000 metric tones of lithium a day.
“3000 metric tones a day will give you over a million tones a year. Because in the production aspect, what we do is to multiply the 3000 times roughly like 28 days and times 12 months. That’s what I did approximately depending on whether if it’s 24 hours or 16 or 12 hours a day shift.
“That is what I wanted to come and see myself. I have seen it, and I am happy with what is happening. And they have only about 50 Chinese working here and about 500 local Nigerians that are working here. That is ten times the number of Chinese people who are working here,” Sule said.
The Governor further that, the Chinese company has put in place adequate plans to take care of the environment and to protect the mining area from degradation.
“I am also happy about the discussion on the reclamation of the land because after the mining of this lithium from the ground, a lot of pits will be created. So, how do we reclaim these pits so that they don’t affect the environment?
“From what you can see, we are just sitting by the site of the dam where the waste water and the waste product will be deposited. So, I am interested in seeing that site, which is why I came to the site so that the environment is protected,” he added.
Sule noted that, Nigerians are unable to engage in commercial mining activities mostly because of the dearth of knowledge about commercial mining.
“The reason why Nigerians have not been able to do it is because we don’t have the knowledge, and in most cases, those who have the money don’t have the knowledge.
“That is why you continue to see some of the people who are doing the mining in a very crude manner who don’t have the resources to invest in it.
“We have been to one of the sites with you. One of the pit is actually 60m at the moment, and they are going to be 200m deep. You need heavy equipment to do that. You need the knowledge,” he said.
The Governor however expressed hope that, with the Chinese mining company recruiting from the state, citizens of Nasarawa State will gradually acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for commercial mining.
“They are doing that with Nigerians, with people from Nasarawa State. So, people from Nasarawa State will now learn the technology from them. Eventually, they may not need 50 people here.
“By the time the factory will grow to roughly about thousands of people, they may not need 10 percent of foreigners again to work here. It may all be Nigerians mostly people from Nasarawa State that will be working here,” he stated.
He stated further that, apart from the knowledge to be impacted both the communities and the state stand to benefit economically from the venture.