CAPPA cautions against foreigners monopolising lithium mining in Nigeria

THE Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has called on the Nigerian government to approach its pursuit of industrial-scale lithium mining with a deep sense of environmental accountability to protect the livelihoods of its citizens.

It said permitting Chinese and foreign investments without robust local control and responsibility to communities and the environment risks replicating familiar patterns of environmental degradation in the country.

It can further cement China’s efforts at monopolising the African lithium market while entrenching dangerous working environments, CAPPA cautioned.

The pan-African organisation made the call in a statement by its media and communications officer, Robert Egbe, on Thursday, May 16.

It said, “Lithium extraction activities often result in environmental troubles, mainly as mining companies have been known to appropriate local waters for its processing and even engage in the indiscriminate disposal of waste in open waters and lands utilised by locals.

“In many instances, communities have been violently displaced to facilitate mining operations, mostly driven by foreign interests, not to mention the depressing ecological damage associated with these sorts of activities, especially in our country, where environmental regulations are poorly enforced, and demand for corporate accountability is lacking as with the experience of reckless oil extractivism in the country’s Niger Delta region.”

CAPPA’s call comes in the wake of the Nigerian government’s commissioning of its first and largest lithium processing plant in Nasarawa State.

While lithium potential can help drive Nigeria’s economic growth for global competitiveness, CAPPA said there were concerns about the lack of state oversight in mining activities in many parts of the country and its adverse impacts on the environment and local communities.

Nasarawa lithium plant, constructed by the Chinese firm Avatar Energy Materials Company Limited, boasts a production capacity of 4,000 metric tonnes daily and another Chinese firm, Canmax Technologies, has pledged to invest over $200 million in constructing another lithium processing plant in the state.

The ICIR reports that Nigeria is endowed with lithium-bearing minerals sites including in Kogi, Kwara, Ekiti, Cross-River and a few other states

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CAPPA warned further, “The plant in Nasarawa may debut as the country’s first lithium plant, but across the country, the indiscriminate mining of this resource by foreign actors (allegedly by the Chinese) has been ongoing for donkey years, fueling rural banditry, environmental disasters, insecurity, deprivation, and violence in many communities.

“We are concerned about the implications of these lithium investments for communities, given the systemic flaws inherent in Nigeria’s mining governance. Nigeria’s mining sector has historically favoured the federal government’s interests over those of local communities, creating a fundamental contradiction in resource ownership.”

According to CAPPA, the commissioning of the lithium plant is occurring at a time when discussions critiquing the outdated nature of Nigeria’s primary mining law, its discouraging provisions for joint oversight between the federal and state governments, and its exclusion of community voices have prompted an ongoing proposal for amendment through the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act (Amendment) Bill.

It noted that the concerns raised questions about the agreement between Avatar Energy and the government and what solid benefits and protection it provided for local communities, especially with the limited disclosure of the project’s environmental impact assessment details.

“We are afraid this will further consolidate the ongoing trend of exploitation by foreign mining companies, who employ locals for pittances that do nothing to improve local capacities and economies,” CAPPA observed.




     

     

    It cited that the Chinese lithium mining operators had been indicted in countries like Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Namibia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo for their illicit mining operations which harm the environment and locals.

    It called on the Nigerian government to review the “lopsided governance structure of the sector” to safeguard local environments and livelihoods, as well as ensure a sustainable mining future.

    “The government must also enforce strict regulations that prioritise community well-being, including robust environmental protections, fair compensation for land use, and opportunities for local economic development.

    “Corporations must be held accountable for their actions, and transparency must be demanded and enforced in their operations. Only through these measures can Nigeria break free from the risk of replicating another era of state-approved eco-oppression and build a mining future that is fair and empowering,” CAPPA added.

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