Can Zimbabwe’s lithium light China’s way to market dominance?

A miner handles a piece of platinum rich ore. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg , Bloomberg
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Zimbabwe’s government hopes to transition the nation into an upper-middle income economy by 2030 — with mining being a key component.

We ran an article this week that piqued my interest for two reasons 1) Zimbabwe is my homeland 2) there is a lot of interest in the country’s vast untapped lithium reserves.

The article titled Li3 Lithium looks to unlock Zimbabwe’s lithium reserves outlines that Li3 Resources has entered a binding JV agreement to acquire up to a 50% interest in the Mutare Lithium Project from African Minerals.

The Mutare Lithium Project consists of 1,500 ha of licenses within the Mutare Greenstone Belt of Zimbabwe. The area was deemed prospective for lithium-cesium-tantalum (LCT) type pegmatites based on prior target generation work. hard rock lithium deposits are forecast to continue to dominate the global supply of lithium given the scarcity, complexity, and capex-intensive nature of alternative brine sources.

Zimbabwe is estimated to hold Africa’s largest lithium reserves, but a lack of investment has left it underdeveloped. However, the Mutare Lithium Project is in a region in Zimbabwe that is now receiving significant interest. The claim blocks are well located and, in several instances, have attracted interest from international lithium producers, which is expected to further expand interest and investment in the region.

Zimbabwe’s government hopes to transition the nation into an upper-middle income economy by 2030 — and the mining industry has been slated by the government as a key component to realizing this vision.

Zimbabwe’s Masivingo Province is home to the Bikita mine – the site of the world’s largest-known deposit of the metal at around 11 Mt. As can be expected the Chinese Communist Party has already clinched its claws into this treasure trove. China’s Sinomine has pledged to invest $200 million into the mine. It plans to build a new production line with capacity of 2 Mtpa. The investment will allow the mine to produce more spodumene.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa believes the investment in reconstruction, expansion, and construction of new production lines at Bikita Minerals will consolidate its position as a diversified mineral producer. Zimbabwe has the capacity to become Africa’s green energy development and manufacturing hub. Sinomine plans to increase the mining and processing capacity at the Bikita mine to 1.2 Mtpa by the end of this year. It also intends to build a new ore production line with a 2 Mpta capacity.

Suzhou has also agreed to invest $35 million for the construction of a pilot plant at the Zulu mine, which will help the facility produce up to 50,000 tons of lithium-containing rocks annually. This new investment sets the company on the path to achieving vertical integration of the lithium battery supply chain. –  Mining Review Africa