Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
Nigeria’s Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, says the West African nation and Africa’s largest oil producer has started concerted efforts to develop her rich endowment of battery minerals.
The minister, who gave a keynote address at a maiden summit on Future Minerals in the country, stated that a World Bank estimation has shown that a multiple demand for battery storage minerals, primarily comprising copper, cobalt, lithium, nickel, platinum group minerals, and to a lesser extent, aluminum, will grow 10 to 30 times by 2040.
The World Bank, he noted, also included chromium, graphite, manganese, rare earth elements and zinc, to the list following demand from electric vehicles and battery storage industries.
He added that from the World Bank report, “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.”
“Already, many nations are aggressively initiating policies and strategic models to ensure the accelerated development of these critical energy minerals. Last month, the United States Senate passed an Act with incentives for developing critical minerals. Australia is also considering investment packages to stimulate exploration, mining, and processing of these minerals. In addition, China has stepped up imports from developing nations to bolster critical minerals stockpiles.
“The 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change emphasises the need to decline the use of non-renewable components in energy generation. Renewable sources of energy provide an alternative to the energy transition economy.
“The consequence of this major shift is a high demand for critical minerals for use in climate-friendly technologies. The World Bank has estimated the demand for these minerals to escalate by 2040. Undoubtedly, the deployment of critical minerals for a clean energy transition will remain significantly intensive for a long time.”
“We (Nigeria) 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 other choice but to join the global race in developing the critical minerals value chain.”
Adegbite further disclosed that Nigeria is richly endowed with these critical minerals, stating that: “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 Plateau, Nasarawa, Kogi, and several other states. A large amount of rare earth minerals ore was discovered in pegmatite and granites in Nigeria. Graphite is also found in Kaduna State.”
He said the federal government has recorded a breakthrough in the exploration of strategic minerals under the National integrated Mineral Exploration Programme (NIMEP), adding that the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has commenced the design of a robust strategic framework to create a thriving critical minerals industry.