Home » Zimbabwe’s Lithium Boom: How a Mining Giant is Paving the Way for a Green Future

Zimbabwe’s Lithium Boom: How a Mining Giant is Paving the Way for a Green Future

A mining company is investing in value addition and green technology to produce lithium batteries for the local and international markets.

by Motoni Olodun

Zimbabwe is poised to become a global leader in the production of lithium batteries, thanks to a mining company that is investing in value addition and green technology.

Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe (PLZ), a subsidiary of Australian-listed Prospect Resources, is developing the Arcadia lithium project near Harare, which is expected to produce battery-grade lithium for the local and international markets.

The company has already built a state-of-the-art plant to process the raw lithium ore into high-purity lithium hydroxide and carbonate, which are the key ingredients for making lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in electric vehicles, smartphones, laptops, and renewable energy systems, and are seen as a key component of the transition to a low-carbon economy.

According to the International Energy Agency, the global demand for lithium could increase by more than 40 times by 2040, driven by the growth of electric mobility and clean energy storage.

Zimbabwe has one of the world’s largest lithium deposits, estimated at 23 million tonnes, according to the US Geological Survey. The country also has other minerals that are used in battery production, such as nickel, cobalt, and manganese.

However, most of these minerals are exported in their raw form, without much value addition or beneficiation, resulting in low returns for the country.

This is why the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Mashonaland East, Aplonia Munzverengwi, has challenged PLZ to go beyond processing and start manufacturing lithium batteries locally.

She made the remarks during a tour of PLZ’s offices and staff accommodation in Goromonzi on Wednesday, where she also inspected the plant and the mine site.

“Here at PLZ, initially they were mining and exporting unprocessed lithium but because of the laws of the Zimbabwean government which says we want our companies to mine and process that is why we see that at PLZ they are mining and processing,” she said.

“They also want to involve their further to process up to the level of lithium sulfate and we are saying they should go beyond that. They have to plan to say at the end of the day all things done we want to export finished products in the form of lithium batteries.”

She added that there was nothing to stop Zimbabwe from exporting lithium batteries to neighboring countries and beyond, and urged the PLZ team and engineers to go back to the drawing board and come up with a viable plan.

She also said the government was ready to give PLZ more land to develop special economic zones, where they could enjoy tax incentives and other benefits.

PLZ director in the general manager’s office, Yu Long, said the company was following the procedure step by step, and would consider manufacturing lithium batteries in the future.

“As PLZ we will follow the procedure step by step. Firstly, we need to finish the concentrate then we go to another step of making lithium sulfate and we continue up to furthering our activities to the manufacturing of batteries,” he said.

He also said the company was committed to environmental and social responsibility and had invested in solar power, water recycling, and community development projects.

PLZ is not the only company that is eyeing the lucrative lithium market in Zimbabwe. Several other players, such as Bikita Minerals, Premier African Minerals, and Zulu Lithium, are also exploring and developing lithium projects in the country.

The government has also expressed its support for the lithium industry and has declared it a priority mineral under National Development Strategy 1, which aims to transform Zimbabwe into an upper-middle-income economy by 2030.

With the right policies and partnerships, Zimbabwe could leverage its lithium potential to create jobs, generate revenue, and contribute to the global fight against climate change.

Source: The Herald


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