Zimbabwe state-owned mining group Sandawana Mines, part of Kuvimba Mining House (KMH), plans to invest $220mn in developing a local lithium mine it acquired in 2019, The Herald reports.
Sandawana director of the energy cluster, Trevor Barnard, said the projected investment follows a successful phase one exploratory drilling campaign at the asset, once owned by British-Australian resources giant Rio Tinto as an emerald mine.
Chemical analysis and the assaying work are expected to be complete in the next two weeks while phase two drilling has commenced, he said.
Sandawana will be an open-pit operation with high-grade lithium, which, Barnard said, will make it one of the largest globally.
“We decided to develop a 3mn tonnes per annum mine and processing plant – in the short term,” he said, as quoted by The Herald.
The lithium concentrate of between 5.5 and 6% purity to be produced at Sandawana will be exported to China through neighbouring Mozambique.
The mine is among a number that are being developed in Africa’s biggest producer of lithium. Chinese investors dominate with at least three mines – Bikita Minerals, Prospect and Sabi Star – already exporting concentrate or about to do so. Between them, the Chinese have invested up to $1.5bn in lithium projects in Zimbabwe.
“We are also doing further phases of exploration, phase three and four and the overall expectation is that we would end up at the resource size of around 100mn tonnes in totality, that can’t be confirmed at this stage but that is from our initial exploration expectations and evidence that we found on site,” Barnard added.