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Govt to pursue local lithium beneficiation

Zimbabwe intends to vigorously pursue local value addition of its lithium resources to maximise export earnings from the mineral, a cabinet Minister has said.

Lithium is used to make various items including special glasses and ceramics, lithium-ion batteries and can also be alloyed with aluminium and copper to make strong, lightweight metals for aircraft.

According to estimates, the global lithium-ion battery market alone is expected to reach $93,1 billion by 2025 due to their increased usage in electric vehicles and portable consumer electronics.

The prospect creates greater scope for prioritising local value addition and beneficiation of the mineral.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said Zimbabwe ought to maximise benefits from its mineral resources.

“As Zimbabwe we are one of the few countries which are blessed with lithium resources and the more we can have in terms of lithium value addition can be good for the country,” he said.

Last year, the Government indicated that Zimbabwe was aiming to produce at least 10 percent of global lithium output within the next four years, following the discovery of new deposits of the mineral in different parts of the country over the past year.

The discovery of the new deposits in areas including Matabeleland North and Mashonaland Central provinces has spawned a scramble for lithium exploration and extraction by foreign investors. Some of the projects that are being pursued include the Zulu Mine located about 80 kilometres outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, which is being spearheaded by Premier African Minerals.

Another company, Bikita Minerals is currently extracting the mineral in Masvingo province. Lithium has been described as a “hot commodity” due to rising demand, with another Australian listed firm, Prospect Resources also pushing another project in Zimbabwe.

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