High-grade lithium has been discovered in Nigeria. The discovery led to a wave of optimism in some quarters that Nigeria has gotten yet another resource that can somehow contribute to its GDP.
But does the discovery align with such expectations? First, a lithium find is never the same as commercial lithium find, which means the quantities are enough to warrant commercial exploration, extraction and distribution.
It’s unclear if the latest discovery is large enough to be exploited on a commercial scale. Also, the discovery, as well as the potential for exploration, raises more concern about the possibility of environmental pollution and degradation.
Lithium is described as high-grade when it has between 1% – 13% oxide content. The higher the grade, the higher the economic value of the mineral. Compared to Zimbabwe, though, Nigeria’s production capacity is still below par. In 2019, Zimbabwe’s production capacity was 1,200 metric tons, and Nigeria’s was just 50 metric tons.
Lithium serves many industries, from mobile telephony to computing and electronics generally/.
While ordinarily the discovery of lithium should be a cause for celebration among many citizens, there’s palpable fear that corruption will erode the lithium industry like it has the petroleum, and the citizens would gain nothing from that discovery.