Ireland’s gold and zinc explorer Arkle Resources, listed on London’s AIM market, is the latest company to make an entry into Zimbabwe to prospect for lithium.
The company, whose only operations are in Ireland, says it has been granted three licences covering a small area of 163 hectares in Insiza district, and the company sees it as a low-cost entry into the country.
“This is a toe-in-the-water exercise by Arkle,” says company chairperson John Teeling, who adds that his directors have experience in Zimbabwe and have examined the potential for hard rock lithium in the country.
In the late 1960s, the ground was subject to limited mining of lepidolite, a lithium-bearing mineral associated with spodumene, according to the company.
“It is only recently that rising lithium prices and the potential of a massive supply gap to meet battery demand have made the extraction of hard rock lithium viable,” Teeling says.
“We have examined what ground was available and been granted three licences, one of which was a small lepidolite producer – a lithium-associated mineral. We continue to examine additional opportunities in battery metals.”
Foreign interest in Zimbabwe’s lithium potential is growing, as global miners rush to secure sources of lithium to meet rising demand for the metal used for electric vehicle batteries. The push for Zimbabwe’s lithium assets has been led by large Chinese metals companies and mid-tier London-listed prospectors.
The largest of the transactions include December’s purchase of Arcadia mine by Huayou Cobalt, one of the world’s largest metal producers, Sinomine’s investment in Bikita Minerals, and Chengxin’s deal for mineral claims in Manicaland. This year alone, Red Rock Resources, Premier African Minerals and Galileo Resources, all listed in London, have also announced moves to explore for lithium in Zimbabwe.