President Bola Tinubu has commended the inauguration of Nigeria’s largest lithium processing plant in Lafia, Nasarawa State, hailing it as a clear indication of the country’s attractiveness for foreign investment.

According to a State House Press Release signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity; Chief Ajuri Ngelale, President Tinubu made the remarks on Friday in Abuja during a meeting with Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State, who was accompanied by Mr. Hi Yongwei, Chairman of Avatar New Energy Materials Company Limited, and Mr. Zhenhua Pei, Chairman, Canmax Technologies.

Avatar, a Chinese firm, built the lithium processing plant which produces about 4,000 metric tonnes daily while Canmax Technologies, a renowned Chinese firm responsible for over 30% of global battery material production, announced a new investment of $200 million for another lithium processing plant in Nasarawa State.

Welcoming the inauguration of the plant and the announcement of new investment plans, President Tinubu urged the Chinese firms to prioritize environmental protection, community engagement, and corporate social responsibility initiatives as integral parts of their operations.

”There are other aspects of lithium that you are exploring in the country, especially in battery production. Nigeria is a huge market for solar panels. Africa is a major consumer of solar technologies. I do not see why these panels and batteries cannot be produced here. The labour is cheaper. Our youths are vibrant and skilled. Our people are brilliant and adapt to new technology. The economy is increasingly more vibrant, and Nigeria is dependable. We have the consumption capacity and a surplus of steady-handed citizens with gifted minds and an innate drive to work and produce.

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”You must not leave the community in ruins as you explore for our high-grade minerals. You must be concerned with cooperation and always care for the community.

”We are caring partners. We want your investments to succeed so that you can expand further. Whenever you call on us, we will help you. You can, in mutually-beneficial collaboration with us, dominate the solar panel market as part of a revolution in Africa and the West African sub-region.

”You can always promote the interest of China and Nigeria as the best place in Africa to do business. We are preparing to produce in this country the solar technologies that the entire continent will use,” the President said.

President Tinubu also applauded Governor Sule and the Minister of Solid Minerals, Mr. Dele Alake, for their dedication to ensuring environmental protection and value addition by mining firms operating in the country.

”The Governor of Nasarawa State and the Honourable Minister of Solid Minerals, Dele Alake, also share in these congratulations.

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”It is a great joy to have you (the Chinese executives) in Nigeria. It is part of our campaign that Nigeria is open for business. We congratulate your courage in believing in us and the inauguration of the new factory.

”I can assure you that we will continue to give you the necessary support and encouragement. This is an opportunity for you to help tell the rest of the investment world that Nigeria is solid and open for business,” the President said.

In his remarks, Governor Sule thanked the President for his unflinching support toward solid mineral development in the country and for sending Senate President Godswill Akpabio to represent him at the inauguration.

”The company that we just commissioned today in Nasarawa is a 500-million-dollar turnover company. They are happy, and they have seen enough potential to mine lithium in the region for the next 15 to 20 years,’’ the Governor said.

In his remarks, Mr. Alake said the ministry has embarked on proactive measures to address the risks posed by abandoned mines across the country, left behind by colonialists in the 1950s and 1960s.

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”We are in the process of putting in place remedial measures, converting some of them into constructive uses, like farming and irrigation.

”To ensure that companies operating in this sector no longer abandon the mines after they have finished operations, it is part of our requirements that for licencing fresh applicants, there must be concrete remediation plans that are viable and working before any application is approved for mining,” he said.

The Minister also said applicants seeking mining licences must demonstrate a commitment to enhancing local value across the entire mining value chain, aligning with the government’s agenda to promote indigenous participation and economic empowerment.

”Your Excellency, in a nutshell, permit me to revel in the belief with conviction that under your leadership, with all the policy initiatives you have put in place, there is nowhere else for Nigeria to go but forward. Forward ever and backward never,” the Minister said.

In separate remarks, the Chinese executives described their investments in Nigeria as worthwhile and pledged to adhere to mining regulations while fulfilling their corporate social responsibilities to host communities.