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FG, stop China from stealing Lithium

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By Abraham Adekunle

Association asks FG to stop Chinese miners from stealing pricey metal.

Nigerian miners under the umbrella of the Miners Association of Nigeria have sent a passionate plea to the federal government to check the activities of Chinese miners who are said to be “scavenging” for Lithium. The association says that these miners’ activities will threaten the Economy of the country down the line. It was reported in the news that Chinese nationals were burrowing in Nigeria’s mines and grabbing whatever deposits of lithium that they could find to sneak back home to fuel their industries.

Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol “Li” and atomic number 3. The metal is pricey in the international market and it is a valuable ingredient in the production of batteries that run the next generation of electric products, including electric cars. This is why these miners have asked the government to stop the Chinese before it is too late. Foreign nationals have been known to mine minerals in the country without the intervention of the federal government.

The association gives the effects of not taking action.

According to the association, “Chinese are moving from one Mining site to the other, scavenging and mopping our raw lithium Mineral at a cheap rate to develop their industries and economy. This is not good for the future of our economy; what this means is that Nigeria will end up buying electric batteries from them. Allowing the Chinese to enter into every mining site is one of the reasons Kidnapping is on the increase in Nigeria because they are the major target for kidnappers.”

The association ended their plea by asking the government to take a number of actions. The first is to revoke the 100% mining license, which was granted to the Chinese. The association says that allowing the Chinese to have 100% mining assets is not good enough for the indigenous mining Investors. They also asked that the government safeguard the country’s lithium and revive all the moribund companies producing batteries in Nigeria.

Global lithium market is valued at $3.83 billion and projected to double.

When one looks at the market for lithium worldwide, the concerns and demands of the miners can be understood. According to the Fortune Business Insights, the value of the global lithium market is valued at $3.83 billion in 2021 and it is projected to double to $6.62 billion in 2028 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.1% in the period. The familiar metal, silver, is valued at $182.1 billion in 2019 by Grand View Research and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.0% in terms of Revenue from 2020 to 2027.

Beyond its use and value of the precious metal in the raw state, unravelling the value chain of lithium can confer billions of dollars to any economy that has the metal encrusted in its earth. According to Live Science, lithium is a versatile metal that is used in Medicine and in the making of batteries. Lithium is “the lightest known metal [that] can also lighten your mood. Lithium, atomic number 3, is an element of many uses. It’s used in the Manufacturing of aircraft and in certain batteries. It’s also used in mental health: lithium carbonate is a common treatment of bipolar disorder, helping to stabilize wild mood swings caused by the illness.”

Even only a fraction of the value chain reveals significant gains.

Lithium-ion batteries are used in mobile phones, computers, electronics, energy storage systems, and electric vehicles. The forecast is that they will dominate the lithium market over the next decades. Breaking down only a fraction of the value chain reveals significant gains for the economy. The electric car market is valued at $246.70 billion in 2020. The market is projected to rise from $287.36 billion in 2021 to $1.318.22 trillion by 2028 at a CAGR of 24.3% during the forecast period of 2021-2028. If Nigeria was to tap into just one percent of that market based on the predictions above, it means electric cars can add more than $13 billion to the economy in one year and $91 billion in seven years.


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