By Nelson Banya
Chinese battery minerals producer Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt says it has started trial production of lithium concentrates at its Arcadia mine in Zimbabwe.
Huayou, one of the biggest cobalt producers in the world, acquired Arcadia from Australia-listed Prospect Resources and its Zimbabwean partners in a US$422 million deal completed in 2022. After the transaction, Huayou said it would spend US$300 million to build a plant to process 4.5 million tonnes of lithium ore at Arcadia.
“All production lines of the Arcadia lithium mine project … have completed equipment installation and commissioning, put materials into trial production and successfully produced the first batch of products,” Huayou said in a statement Wednesday.
The Arcadia mine is expected to produce 50,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent lithium concentrate, Huayou said.
The company said Arcadia, its biggest investment in Africa to date, was a key step towards its strategy to secure and build a chain of lithium assets.
Huayou on Wednesday also announced a US$1.67 million investment in Australia-listed Askari Metals to advance the exploration of its Uis lithium project in Namibia.
Huayou also has two copper and cobalt projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with an annual production of 100,000 tonnes of cathode copper and 10,000 tonnes of cobalt.
The company also has three nickel and cobalt projects in Indonesia, with an expected annual production of 225,000 tonnes of nickel and 23,000 tonnes of cobalt products by 2024.