HARARE – The Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe, Zhou Ding, has expressed that Zimbabwe currently faces challenges in developing battery-grade lithium, despite possessing significant lithium reserves, a vital mineral in clean energy technology production. He highlighted several issues inhibiting the country from fully reaping the benefits of its lithium sector.
“China fully supports the Zimbabwean government’s vision for value addition and low-carbon development through the expansion of the mining industry, particularly in the lithium sector. However, Rome was not built in a day,” he noted.
One major challenge is the dependence on imported raw materials like sulfuric acid, which has high costs, for battery-grade lithium production. Moreover, lithium processing is energy-intensive, and Zimbabwe faces issues of insufficient power supply and high electricity costs, which hinder battery-grade lithium production. Ding also mentioned long-term competition from neighboring countries like South Africa and Zambia.
While Zimbabwe has some of the world’s largest lithium deposits, it has primarily focused on petalite production (a form of lithium used in ceramics, aluminum smelting, and glass) at Bikita Minerals since the 1950s.
Ding stated that further investment in new energy mining in Zimbabwe would require more in-depth market research and support measures. Chinese mining giants, including Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, Sinomine Resource Group, and Chengxin Lithium Group, have invested a total of $678 million in lithium mines and projects in Zimbabwe over the past year.
The chief director of Zimbabwe’s Transport ministry, Suston Muzenda, also spoke at the event, highlighting the challenges in the country’s transport sector. He emphasized the need to address high operating costs and accessibility issues, which affect the competitiveness of Zimbabwean products and pose challenges to urban and rural communities. Muzenda suggested embracing e-mobility, including the adoption of electric vehicles and the development of a sustainable transportation ecosystem, as a transformative solution for the transport crisis in the country.
Source – the chronicle