Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa hosted a commissioning ceremony for a new lithium processing plant run by Bikita Minerals, a subsidiary of China’s Sinomine Resource Group Co Ltd (SHA: 002738).
“Today, I commissioned the lithium beneficiation plant at Bikita Minerals. This marks a new era in our mining sector, harnessing our rich resources for sustainable growth and prosperity,” said the president on Wednesday.
Construction of the plant was completed in July this year and cost the company US$300 million. It is capable of producing 480,000 tonnes of petalite and 300,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrates annually.
“The facility possesses the capability to beneficiate spodumene and petalite low-grade soils to higher grades while yielding large quantities of the lithium mineral with the output grade being as stipulated in our lithium policy,” said Zimbabwe’s Minister of Mines, Zhemu Soda.
Mnangagwa said at the ceremony that Bikita Minerals should invest in manufacturing glass, ceramics and enamel from its petalite for Zimbabwe’s benefit. The country raked in US$209 million from lithium exports between January and the end of September this year.
President @edmnangagwa officially commissioned the Bikita Minerals Spodumene and Petalite Processing Plants. The Lithium miner spent US$300 million on plant construction @ChineseZimbabwe @MinistryMines @Mining_Zimbabwe @MineNewsAfrica @NewAfricaCon pic.twitter.com/XVhVoH9qMc
— BIKITA(SINOMINE GROUP) (@N35str7j62pw03D) November 29, 2023
Zimbabwe has Africa’s largest lithium reserves
The African nation has the continent’s largest reserves of the metal and one of the world’s as well. The country sits in spot number six on the list of the planet’s top lithium exporters.
Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt (SHA: 603799), another Chinese company, also opened a major lithium processing plant in the country earlier this year. Chinese companies have invested over US$1 billion in Zimbabwe’s lithium assets within the past two years.
Zimbabwe’s government has said that the country will meet 20 per cent of the world’s lithium demand once its resources are fully exploited. The country’s Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube, just ordered lithium miners in Zimbabwe to submit their production plans to the country’s government by March next year.
Despite growth in the country’s mining and resource sectors, Canada’s Fraser Institute rated Zimbabwe as the world’s worst mining jurisdiction in 2022.
Zimbabwe’s Investment and Development Agency says Canada invested US$4 million in the country’s mining industry during Q3 this year.