L-R: Dr. Bashir Gwandu, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) and Governor Engr. Abdullahi A. Sule, when the Governor paid a courtesy visit to the NASENI Headquarters on Friday 18th August, 2023. PHOTO: NASENI
The move towards boosting local economic development and capitalizing on the global demand for lithium, the Nasarawa State government has announced a strategic partnership with the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI). This partnership aims to establish a comprehensive lithium processing policy that will see lithium mined within the state being processed locally instead of being exported in its raw form.
The decision aligns with NASENI’s broader objective of encouraging the processing of Strategic Solid Minerals and, in particular, fostering the local production of batteries, both for electric vehicles and various energy storage applications.
The collaboration was unveiled during a courtesy visit by the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State, Engr. Abdullahi A. Sule, to Dr. Bashir Gwandu, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NASENI, at the Agency’s headquarters in Abuja over the weekend. Notably, Nasarawa State is recognized as having one of the largest lithium deposits in Nigeria.
In recent times, NASENI has garnered attention for its efforts to attract investors and lithium off takers from around the world to participate in the local processing of lithium, encompassing all stages from mineral extraction to final product manufacturing.
Already, Chinese companies have expressed their interest by visiting NASENI in response to this call for collaboration. Dr. Gwandu, the EVC of NASENI, indicated that the agency plans to partner with other government bodies such as the Rural Electricity Agency (REA) and the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), along with various investing institutions, to advance this initiative.
Dr. Gwandu expressed his satisfaction with Governor Sule’s willingness to collaborate with NASENI. He also revealed that several companies have expressed interest in investing in Nasarawa State for lithium processing, with production volumes ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 tonnes per day. Nasarawa alone is projected to process nearly 6,000 tonnes of lithium per day.
Governor Sule highlighted the surging interest in Nasarawa State, likening it to a “Lithium Rush,” attributed to the remarkable increase in the global lithium price, soaring from $6,000 to $78,000 per metric tonne. He emphasized the need for coordinated efforts to ensure Nigeria becomes a prominent lithium producer on the global stage.
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 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 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 recent visit to Nasarawa he had encouraged the Institute to allow the use of its machines by the local communities and small companies for efficient utilization and capacity building and for 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 evacuation of its products.
While responding further to His Excellency Governor Sule, Dr. Gwandu disclosed that NASENI does not have any plan to build an airport but is working on establishing an MRO/ARO as part of our efforts to develop capacity for both maintenance and eventual aircrafts parts production to service aerospace industry which is likely to be sited in Abuja in view of its location and electricity supply.
He promised that NASENI will actively participate in any conference by the State with regard to lithium. He said NASENI Institutes have industrial machineries and other equipment and workforce that were readily available to lead Nigeria to industrialize and achieve a diversified economy but doing this requires huge funds outlay to fulfil the Agency’s mandate.
He requested the governor to be one of the ambassadors of NASENI in NGF. He said NGF holds key to the release of NASENI’s held up funds.
Moreover, he said the governors support is key to enabling the Agency carry out its works in the areas of science, technology and innovation (STI), geared towards the industrial development at the States.