June 22, 2024
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Zimbabwe to Boost Economy with Domestic Lithium Refining

Zimbabwe’s Deputy Mines Minister, Polite Kambamura said the country plans to enhance its economy by refining lithium domestically to produce battery-grade material. Zimbabwe is Africa’s leading lithium producer and the world’s sixth-largest lithium miner.

Kambamura explained that four major producers of lithium concentrate have submitted proposals to refine the raw material within Zimbabwe instead of exporting it to China. Chinese companies currently dominate the lithium extraction industry in the country.

The government has not yet begun reviewing these proposals, and the deputy minister declined to name the companies involved.

Currently, Chinese firms such as Sinomine Resource Group, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, Yahua Group, Chengxin Lithium Group, Canmax Technologies, and Tsingshan Group are operating in Zimbabwe. These companies extract lithium concentrate and ship it to China for processing into battery-grade lithium for electric vehicles (EVs) and energy storage systems.

Zimbabwe’s lithium mine production reached a record high of 3,400 metric tons last year, a 230% increase from 2022. Over the past decade, annual output has tripled.

The government is now focused on developing a lithium refining industry and gave miners a six-month deadline last November to submit plans for local processing of the critical battery metal.

“We are not going to end with concentrates; we want batteries to be manufactured here,” Deputy Mines Minister Polite Kambamura emphasized to Reuters.

China currently leads the global market in processing critical battery minerals, refining 90% of rare earth elements (REEs) and 60-70% of lithium and cobalt, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

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