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Zimbabwe's Bikita Minerals sitting on 65 million tonnes of lithium

by Staff reporter
06 Oct 2023 at 06:31hrs | Views
Zimbabwe is making significant strides towards becoming a leading global producer of lithium, and the exploration efforts at Bikita Minerals, the oldest lithium mine in the country, owned by Sinomine, are gaining momentum. This historic mine, with decades of production behind it, has revealed reserves of 65 million tonnes.

Last year, Sinomine acquired Bikita Minerals with a substantial $300 million investment, attracting a wave of foreign investors eager to tap into Zimbabwe's abundant lithium resources. This interest is driven by the growing global demand for lithium batteries.

Sinomine's ongoing exploration at Bikita Minerals has uncovered vast reserves, potentially establishing it as the largest lithium extractor in Zimbabwe in terms of resource size. Sinomine believes that with ongoing exploration and planned higher extraction rates, the mine has a lifespan of 15 to 20 years beyond the present proven reserves.

The Chinese company is enthusiastic about its prospects at Bikita and is considering the construction of a lithium processing plant to refine and enhance the mineral before export. Lithium, being highly reactive, requires processing into forms like lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide, with purity levels exceeding 99 percent, adding considerable value to the final product.

Collen Nikisi, the public relations officer for Sinomine, has clarified that recent exploration findings indicate a mine lifespan of 15 to 20 years and ongoing exploration is continually expanding the reserves. He refuted claims that Bikita Minerals was exporting raw lithium ore without adding value, stating that they export lithium concentrate, which demonstrates the value addition occurring at the mine.

Feasibility studies have been completed for a final processing plant at Bikita Minerals to further enhance beneficiation and production capacity. The expansion efforts at Bikita Minerals Sinomine are expected to create additional employment opportunities for local residents, with 2,000 direct jobs already created since Sinomine's takeover. The company also has a well-structured skills transfer program.

Mr. Nikisi dismissed allegations of having too many expatriate workers, emphasizing compliance with the immigration department's regulations. He noted that over 300 students from local tertiary institutions are gaining work-related experience at the Bikita mine.

Zimbabwe is poised to capitalize on its substantial lithium deposits, given the rising global demand for lithium, which is used in ceramics, cellphones, and vehicle batteries. Currently ranked as the sixth-largest lithium producer globally and the top producer in Africa, Zimbabwe is working towards its Vision 2030 of becoming an empowered upper-middle-income economy.

Source - The Herald