HARARE – Zimbabwe is set to launch a lithium policy as the government seeks to control the mining sub sector to ensure the country fully benefits from the resource.
Currently the country has few existing and exploratory lithium mining projects including Bikita Minerals, Zulu Lithium, Kamativi and Arcadia Mine located in Goromonzi – all which require significant amounts of capital to develop. The country has plans to open a lithium ore processing plant in Bulawayo, a plan first mooted in 2014.
Speaking on the sidelines of the signing ceremony of the Prospect Arcadia lithium binding agreements between Prospects Resources and Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt at State House, Minister of Mines Winston Chitando said lithium will be declared a strategic resource which the government seeks to control.
“It is a strategic mineral and we have more projects coming. We have the Lithium Development Plan coming in the next year,” said Minister Chitando.
According to Chitando, government has taken a strategic position on lithium and “because of this, it is facilitating all the lithium deposits to be developed to achieve the goal of US$12 billion industry by 2030.” Mining analysts believe that for the country to fully benefit from mineral, it needs to push for ore beneficiation to the maximum extent.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said the country will continue to implement comprehensive reforms to enhance the country’s competitiveness in the lithium mining sector as well as other areas.
“In keeping with the tenets of ease of doing business, the ministry of Mines and other government ministries, departments and agencies are directed to support this and other initiatives towards increased investments into our economy,” said President Mnangagwa.
President Mnangagwa said the project would leap-frog Zimbabwe into lithium production and value chain industries adding that the country is poised to become a hub for “research, development, exploitation, and manufacturing of green energy and lithium based solutions.”
Zimbabwe has one of the largest lithium reserves in Africa and the country stands to benefit as lithium is a key component in various value chain industries including portable electronics, glass, ceramics, energy storage (batteries) and manufacturing of electric vehicles.
The signing ceremony which was witnessed by ministers, senior government officials, representatives of Prospect Resources and Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt will see the Shanghai listed company acquiring 87% of Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe a subsidiary of Prospect Resources for US$378 million with a possibility of buying out the local investors who own the remaining shares for US$44 million.
The deal now waits regulatory approvals in Zimbabwe and China. Prospect has been scouting for investors to give its flagship asset Arcadia mine impetus to the ongoing developments at the mine.