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Zimbabwe' lithium exports jump 1000% in 5yrs

by Staff reporter
02 Nov 2023 at 05:35hrs | Views
Zimbabwe has witnessed a remarkable increase in lithium exports, with a surge of over 1,000 percent since 2018, reaching $209 million by September this year, as disclosed by the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Zhemu Soda.

With the largest lithium deposits in Africa and ranking seventh globally in production, Zimbabwe is actively boosting its production capacity to meet the rising demand for this mineral. Key producers in the country include Bikita Minerals, Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe, and Sabi Star, while several other major producers are gearing up to commence operations next year, further expanding the local lithium sector.

The heightened demand for lithium and battery minerals is closely linked to the global growth of green energy industries, particularly in the manufacturing of electric vehicles and energy storage devices.

The mining sector holds a central position in Zimbabwe's economic landscape and is expected to drive the nation toward achieving its vision of becoming an upper middle-income economy by 2030. The government's objective was to elevate the mining industry to a $12 billion sector by the end of this year, buoyed by strategic minerals like gold, platinum, diamonds, and lithium.

Addressing the Zimbabwe School of Mines Lithium and Battery Minerals Conference in Bulawayo, Minister Soda emphasized that the mining industry's expansion, including lithium and battery minerals such as tantalum, graphite, nickel, manganese, and tin, would play a pivotal role in realizing this national goal.

He reported that lithium exports have experienced significant growth from 2018 to 2022. Revenues from lithium exports during this period surged from $1.8 million in 2018 to $70 million in 2022. By September 2023, Zimbabwe had already generated $209 million from lithium exports, reflecting an impressive increase.

The Minister attributed this rise in demand to the surge in the production of energy storage devices, mobile phones, and electric vehicles, driven by the increasing adoption of green energy solutions. As a result, lithium and battery minerals are expected to remain highly sought-after for an extended period.

The growing demand for lithium and battery minerals presents numerous opportunities for Zimbabwe, which boasts abundant lithium resources, making it a leading producer in Africa and globally. The country has witnessed a surge in investment, both from local and foreign entities, looking to mine, process, and export these valuable minerals.

Minister Soda emphasized the potential of lithium and battery minerals to power Zimbabwe's future, exploiting all available opportunities in the sector. He highlighted the benefits of mineral exploration, including increased revenue generation, employment creation, economic diversification, and technology transfer.

The government has introduced policies to regulate lithium and battery mineral mining and processing. This includes a ban on the export of raw base mineral ores, including lithium, aimed at ensuring greater value is derived from these vast reserves. Additionally, Statutory Instrument 57 of 2023 outlines requirements for lithium export, emphasizing value addition and beneficiation.

Minister Soda underscored the importance of value addition and beneficiation, as they offer numerous advantages for the country, such as generating employment, increasing revenue, reducing the trade imbalance, and raising Zimbabwe's Gross Domestic Product, aligning with National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1) objectives and the Vision 2030 goal.

The government is committed to advancing lithium and battery mineral products up the value chain, with ongoing policy and legislative reforms aimed at realizing this vision and promoting sustainable development. This initiative opens up a range of opportunities for projects involving beneficiation and value addition, enabling the mining sector to unlock its full mineral potential and contribute to sustainable development.

Source - The Herald