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NASENI to partner Nasarawa on lithium processing policy

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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 exported 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 and 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 recently. Nasarawa State is one of the states acknowledged to have potentially the largest deposits of lithium in Nigeria.

Recently, NASENI has made headlines for 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 exported 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 the Rural Electricity Agency (REA), the 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 interest in investing in Nasarawa State to process lithium in various quantities ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 metric tons per day. So far, almost 6,000 metric tons per day are projected to be processed daily in Nasarawa alone.

On his part, Governor Sule said the companies have already indicated interest in processing the 6,000 metric tons per day in Nasarawa state, adding that other states such as Kebbi, Kwara, etc. might also attract such companies and investments, and there is a 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 the Gold Rush, which he termed the Lithium Rush,” happening in his state, and this is because the lithium price in the world market has jumped from $6,000 per metric ton to $78,000 per metric ton. “Nasarawa State has a large quantum of lithium, 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 a 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 the 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 his recent visit to Nasarawa, he encouraged the Institute to allow the use of its machines by the local communities and small companies for efficient utilization, capacity building, and economic development.

The governor, who stated that he heard that the Agency was planning on building an airport, urged it to utilize the State’s cargo airport for the evacuation of its products.

While responding further to His Excellency Governor Sule, Dr. Gwandu disclosed that NASENI does not have any plans to build an airport but is working on establishing an MRO or ARO as part of our efforts to develop capacity for both maintenance and eventual aircraft parts production to service the aerospace industry, which is likely to be sited in Abuja in view of its location and electricity supply.

He promised that NASENI would actively participate in any conference by the State with regard to lithium. He said NASENI Institutes have industrial machinery, other equipment, and a workforce that are readily available to lead Nigeria to industrialize and achieve a diversified economy, but doing this requires a huge financial outlay to fulfill the Agency’s mandate.
He requested that the governor be one of the ambassadors of NASENI in the NGF. He said NGF holds the key to the release of NASENI’s held-up funds.

Moreover, he said the governors support is key to enabling the agency to carry out its work in the areas of science, technology, and innovation (STI), geared towards the industrial development of the States.

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