Lithium: Another untapped wealth-generating mineral in Nigeria
The vastness of Nigeria’s mineral resources cannot be overemphasized.
Nigeria began to explore and exploit its natural mineral resources in 1902. In its heyday, the country’s solid minerals sector was one of the largest producers of tin and coal, while producing a considerable 1.4 tons of gold annually.
Nigeria is enriched with over forty different forms of minerals such as marble, gypsum, lithium, silver, granite, gold, gemstones, bentonite, iron ore among others.
Lithium is one of the mineral resources found in large quantities in some Nigerian states like Kogi, Nasarawa, Ekiti, Kwara, Cross River, Oyo, Plateau, and a few other states.
Lithium gets its name from “lithos,” a Greek word for stone, because it is present in trace amounts virtually in all rocks.
Lithium is mostly used in the manufacturing of rechargeable batteries for mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras and electric vehicles.
Its compounds have several industrial applications, including heat-resistant glass and ceramics, lithium grease lubricants, flux additives for iron, steel and aluminium production, lithium batteries, and lithium-ion batteries.
Recently, the discovery of lithium in Kwara State by the National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project (NIMEP) while on a discovery mission of mineral deposits, indicated that Nigeria is blessed with a high grade of lithium.
According to Director-General, Nigerian Geological Survey Agency, Dr Abdulrazaq Garba, “Nigeria’s lithium is hot cake now, the mineral was discovered is in high grade in the sense that the standard worldwide for even exploration and mining starts from 0.4 percent lithium oxide; but when we started exploration and mining, we saw one percent up to 13 percent lithium oxide content,” he said.
As the battery technology improves, lithium is expected to play a key role in efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that are responsible for global warming.
Therefore, Lithium and other mineral resources can provide new opportunities for Nigeria to improve its non-oil earnings and embrace the energy of the future.