Lithium Top Talks between Deputy PM Dowden, Alake in London

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By Palma Ileye

A comprehensive investment package comprising the lithium value chain topped talks between British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden and Nigeria’s Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr.Oladele Alake in London, late evening on Wednesday.

Hosting the meeting, Dowden said he chairs the British National Economic Security Council, which is interested in partnering with Nigeria on energy minerals such as lithium.

He said the meeting was to kick off discussion between both countries and that officials of the Department of Trade and investors would sit down to work out the details of the partnership.
He urged the Solid Minerals Minister to convey his pleasure to welcome President Tinubu to the African Summit scheduled to take place next year.

In his initial remarks, Alake said Nigeria has large deposits of minerals and ready to partner with investors from the United Kingdom adding that President Tinubu as the chief marketer of Nigeria’s investment drive would consider the invitation positively.
He announced that the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has introduced value addition as a priority policy in the sector.

“ Our new policy places emphasis on local value addition rather than export of raw minerals so that the value of our mineral products can increase.”

Noting that Nigeria and Britain have a long history, Alake told Dowden: “ If Nigeria is not doing well, Britain should be concerned. And if Nigeria is doing well, Britain can benefit from the opportunities.”

He said the Nigerian team would be willing to sit down with their British counterparts to take the discussion to the next level.
Replying Deputy Prime Minister Dowden commended the government for the policy on value addition, adding that going up the value chain would create more economic opportunities for partnership between both countries.

He highlighted the importance of the relationship between both countries, observing that if the relations were bad, Britain would not be bothered with the supplies.

“You are right on value addition. If the processing then happens within a Third World Country we are comfortable with, that would be good”

Founder and partner of Carousel Bio-Energy, promoters of the project, Jafar Hilali, briefed the meeting on his firm’s plans to intervene at every stage of the lithium value chain leading to the establishment of a lithium battery production factory.

He promised to assemble a consortium of British companies in power supply, infrastructure, and lithium battery production with a projection to produce lithium battery-powered energy buses for Nigeria’s domestic market.