5 Lithium projects in Zimbabwe you need to know about

Zimbabwe mining lithium
Trucks at Bikita lithium mine: Zimbabwe hoping to become a major lithium producer

Prospect Resources’ US$422 million deal with China’s Huayou has raised interest in Zimbabwe’s lithium assets.

The deal will see Huayou, one of the world leaders in the manufacture of batteries, taking over Prospect’s Arcadia project.

So, what other lithium projects do we have in Zimbabwe? Here are five lithium projects, at various stages of development, that you must know about.

Prospect Resources

The company is listed on the Australian stock exchange, and broke ground at Arcadia Mine, in Arcturus, in 2018.

Since then, the company has raised money from shareholders for exploration, spending close to US$26 million to confirm the resource. It also signed offtake agreements with major buyers, including Sinomine of China, and Belgium’s Sibelco, one of the world’s biggest ceramics companies, to secure markets for future production.

The company was granted Special Economic Zone status in 2019, which gives it generous tax breaks for ten years. Prospect installed a pilot plant in July this year and has shipped samples of petalite to Sibelco. The company has already exported samples of processed lithium carbonate.

Prospect Resources’s new owners will benefit from SEZ status

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Prospect began making 99.5 percent battery-grade lithium carbonate samples in 2018.

As many exploration companies do, Prospect began looking for a larger buyer to take the project forward. The company first announced plans to sell in 2019. It has now done so with the US$422 million deal with Huayou. Apart from Arcadia, Prospect also has an option to buy Good Days, a lithium resource near Mutoko.

ALSO READ: ANALYSIS | Chinese battery giant is buying Zimbabwe’s Arcadia lithium mine for US$422m. Here’s what you need to know

Bikita Minerals

This is the oldest miner of lithium-bearing minerals in the country. It started mining in the 1950s.

Of note is that there are two main types of lithium-bearing minerals. Spodumene is what is largely used to produce the concentrates that are used in battery manufacturing. The other type, petalite, is used in the glass and ceramics business. Bitkita exports petalite. It is used as an additive by companies that make ceramics – such as tiles and kitchenware – as well as glass.

Bikita Minerals is currently assessing whether the spodumene resources are commercially viable. Should the results turn out positive, Bikita plans to set up a US$150 million plant to process the mineral.

Major shareholders are African Minerals Limited, with 55.4%, Amzim Minerals Limited ​(18, 6%) as well as Dzikamai Mavhaire​​ (16%) and Nehemiah Mutendi 5.25%.

Premier African Minerals (PAM)

The exploration company is listed on London’s Alternative Investments Market, which hosts smaller companies.

PAM holds the Zulu Lithium claims at Fort Rixon, about 80km from Bulawayo. Earlier this year, Zulu Lithium got one of 20 new exclusive prospective orders issued by the Ministry of Mines. This means the company can go ahead with exploration activities there, which have been delayed by red tape.

Zulu Lithium is believed to hold a 20.1 million-tonne resource base, with a grading 1.06% lithium oxide, considered a good grade by industry experts. A scoping study indicated a value of US$127 million for a 15-year open cast mine, producing both spodumene and petalite.

Premier’s RHA plant: The company seeks lithium development

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Premier has hired New York-based EAS Advisors to introduce institutions and funding. The company plans to fund a definitive feasibility study (DFS) at Zulu Lithium. This will help the company find out the actual resources it has, and how much it needs to mine them.

This year, PAM bought a portfolio of assets in Zimbabwe from Australian-listed Lithium Consolidated Mineral Exploration (Li3) for US$104 000. The 1500 hectares of licences are on the Mutare Greenstone Belt, close to the border with Mozambique.

PAM is headed by George Roach, a well-known figure in mining.

Kamativi Tailings

Once a tin mine, there are long-delayed plans to reinvent it as a lithium operation. This will involve treating the old dumps to search for lithium-bearing minerals.

Kamativi: the delayed journey from tin to lithium

The Kamativi Project is a joint venture between the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), owners of Kamativi Tin Mines which holds 40% of the Project, and Canada’s Jimbata, which holds 60%. Disputes over the claim with a Chinese company have delayed the project.

ZLC signed a term sheet with Transamine Trading S.A., a Swiss-based off-taker, to secure US$9.5 million to cover capital costs of Phase 1 of the first phase of the project. A flotation plant to process Kamativi tailings had been expected in 2020, but was delayed.

The company believes there is US$1.4 billion worth of lithium in the dumps.

Six Sigma

Australian-listed explorer Six Sigma bought into Mirrorplex, which is exploring for lithium in Shamva. A drilling programme to find out the extent of the resource started in 2018. A report on the company’s website says that surface rock sampling have shown at least “five large areas containing extensive lithium mineralization” across the entire project area.

Six Sigma is headed by Patrick Holywell, while Mirrorplex is headed by its co-founder, Nyasha Chidoh.

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