Zimbabwe to Boost Lithium Output
Zimbabwe is projected to significantly increase its lithium production to 1.1 million tonnes in 2024, capitalizing on its vast lithium reserves. This marks a remarkable uptick from the 882,000 tonnes produced as of November 2023.
Exploiting Africa’s Largest Lithium Deposits
With the largest lithium deposits in Africa, Zimbabwe is on track to become a key player in the global lithium market. Experts believe that the country could potentially meet 20% of the world’s lithium demand, given its extensive reserves.
Zero Net Emissions Drive and Economic Growth
As global efforts intensify towards achieving zero net emissions, lithium, a critical component in electric vehicle batteries, is poised to be a major economic driver for lithium-producing nations like Zimbabwe.
Government Initiatives and Investment Influx
Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube emphasized the expected growth in lithium production, underpinned by investments in mines like Zulu Mine. The government is also focusing on beneficiation policies for minerals, including lithium, to enhance economic development.
Zimbabwe’s Ban on Unprocessed Lithium Exports
In December 2022, Zimbabwe implemented a ban on the export of unprocessed lithium, encouraging value addition and beneficiation within the country. This policy shift has attracted several Chinese companies to set up lithium processing plants in Zimbabwe.
Beneficiation to Carbonate Level and Battery Manufacturing
The government aims to advance lithium beneficiation to the carbonate level and, in the medium term, venture into the local manufacturing of lithium batteries for electric vehicles.
Investments Over $1 Billion by Chinese Firms
Chinese companies, including Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt and Sinomine Resource Group, have invested over $1 billion in developing lithium projects in Zimbabwe, signaling strong foreign interest and investment in the sector.
Balancing Growth and Beneficiation
Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe’s CEO, Mr. Isaac Kwesu, highlighted the need to balance the mining sector’s growth with beneficiation efforts, considering the unique dynamics of the lithium sub-sector.
Projected Growth of the Mining Sector
The Zimbabwean mining sector is expected to grow by 7.6% in 2024, driven by investments in various minerals, including platinum, gold, coal, and lithium. This growth trajectory is anticipated to continue in the medium-term.