HARARE – Zimbabwe is targeting to produce at least 10 percent of global lithium output within the next four years, following the discovery of new deposits of the mineral in different parts of the country, a Cabinet Minister said on Wednesday.
The discovery of new deposits in areas including Kamativi, in Matabeleland North province and Mashonaland Central has resulted in the country experiencing a scramble for lithium exploration and extraction by foreign investors.
Last month, one of the investors, Australian based miner Prospect Resources raised $10 million to accelerate development of its Arcadia Lithium Mine, located about 38 kilometres east of Harare.
The Zimbabwe government has already declared the Arcadia Lithium Mine, which is expected to start production in the third quarter of 2018, as a priority project, to take advantage of growing global demand.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said historically Zimbabwe produced lithium in the Bikita area in Masvingo province, but the country was now witnessing phenomenal interest and development towards extraction of the mineral in other parts of the country.
“We are poised to have our lithium production commence or expanded in the Kamativi area where there is a huge dump, which will generate about $1, 7 billion for the country,” he told a mining investment conference.
“Besides that dump, there is in-situ material in the Kamativi area which Government would want to see exploited. At the moment the ZMDC which holds some other assets in the Kamativi area, is entering into a $10 million resource quantification exercise on one of the assets near Kamativi.”
Chitando said another project, the Zulu Mine located about 80 kilometres outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, was at an advanced stage of development.
The Zulu Mine project is being spearheaded by Premier African Minerals.
These projects, among others, Chitando said, would see Zimbabwe becoming a major global producer of lithium.
“We are looking at achieving production of at least 10 percent, in the next four years, of the world lithium and certainly it should go to plus or minus 20 percent,” he said.
He said the government would also push for local value addition of the mineral, to enhance revenue earnings.
“Pursuant to government’s beneficiation policy, government will work with producers and potential producers of lithium to go into value addition and specifically to go into LED battery manufacturing,” he said.
Lithium is used to make special glasses and ceramics, lithium batteries, and lithium-ion batteries.
It is also the lightest known metal and can be alloyed with aluminium, copper, manganese, and cadmium to make strong, lightweight metals for aircraft. –New Ziana