Bikita Minerals completes construction of new lithium plants, launches trial production

Sinomine's new Bikita Minerals plant

Bikita Minerals says it has completed the construction of two lithium processing plants, kicking off trial production at the mine.

Global metals giant Sinomine bought Bikita last year in a US$180 million deal with African Metals Management Services and German investor Wilfried Pabst’s Southern African Metals and Minerals, the Mauritius-registered companies that held a combined 74% of the mine. The company has since then ramped up production and construction of two new processing plants.

“The company initiated the new Gravity separation plant (Petalite) with an annual capacity of 2 million tons (petalite concentrate) through its own funds and raised capital, with construction work starting in 2022 based on the existing beneficiation plant at the Bikita Mine,” the company said Monday.

Bikita will have the annual capacity to produce 480,000 tonnes of petalite, a concentrate that can be used in the ceramics industry. Bikita will also produce 300,000 tonnes of chemical-grade spodumene concentrate, used widely by battery makers.

The new project is one of several lithium projects in the country. Huayou Cobalt recently completed construction of its own plant at Arcadia, Goromonzi, which will produce over 450,000 tonnes of spodumene annually. The company started exports in April, exactly a year after construction started, selling 30 000 tonnes of concentrates.

In May, Shengxin commissioned its own plant, Sabi Star in Buhera, with capacity to produce 300,000 tones of concentrates per year. UK’s Red Rock Minerals has recently been awarded licences in the Bikita area, near Bikita Minerals.

Lithium miners, which include Chinese and UK companies, lead the table of new investment into Zimbabwe, according to data from the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency.

“In (first quarter) 2023, 36% of all licences were issued to lithium investors (prospecting, mining and processing). The strong trend began in 2022 and is expected to continue for the rest of 2023 and beyond,” ZIDA says in a report.

“The global boom in renewable energy has seen an increase in the number of investor inquiries into the sector, with the processing of applications underway,” ZIDA says.


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