I declined Tesla’s offer to get raw materials from Nigeria – minister

Mines and Steel Development Minister Olamilekan Adegbite said he turned down an offer from Tesla Inc to get raw lithium from Nigeria.

Lithium is one of the components used in the batteries of electric cars. The price of lithium has increased more than eightfold since the start of 2020, according to the Financial Times.

This has placed the raw material at the heart of a global competition that has pitted the world’s biggest automakers against each other and drawn in governments as they all race to increase and preserve supply.

Speaking at a summit titled ‘Leveraging Future Minerals for Sustainable Development’, Adegbite said a Tesla representative approached him at a summit in Saudi Arabia and expressed interest in the obtaining lithium from Nigeria, but he rejected the offer and asked Tesla to establish a battery industry in Nigeria.

He said the establishment of the battery industry would improve the mining exploration value chain in Nigeria.

Adegbite said demand for minerals from electric vehicles and battery storage is expected to increase 10 to 30 times by 2040.

He said electric vehicles and battery storage will account for about half of energy mineral demand over the next two decades, driven by growing demand for battery materials.

“Nigeria is richly endowed with essential minerals. Lithium and tantalum are found in parts of Nigeria’s extensive pegmatite belts,” he said.

He explained that future minerals are the metallic or non-metallic elements that are essential for the growth and functions of modern technologies.

He said many countries were aggressively launching policies and strategic models to ensure the accelerated development of critical energy minerals.

Adegbite said in July the US Senate had passed legislation providing incentives for the development of critical minerals, adding that Australia was also considering investment programs to boost exploration.

According to him, China has also increased imports from developing countries to bolster stocks of critical minerals.

Observing that the growing demand for critical minerals is propelled by the urgent need to secure a low-carbon future, he said: “Countries are increasingly relying on rare earth elements and critical minerals to support their climate commitments”.

Adegbite said the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change highlights the need to reduce the use of non-renewable components in power generation.

He said renewable energy sources offer an alternative to the energy transition economy.

“The consequence of this major change is a high demand for critical minerals to be used in climate-friendly technologies. The World Bank has estimated that the demand for these minerals will triple by 2040. There is no doubt that the deployment of critical minerals for a clean energy transition will remain very intensive for a long time,” he said.

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