Kuvimba CEO speaks on more VFEX listings, and the lithium potential at abandoned emerald mine

Kuvimba CEO Simba Chinyemba (pic credit: Mining Zim)

Kuvimba Mining House says it plans to list two more units on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange and is exploring lithium at Sandawana, once an emerald mine.

Kuvimba is majority-owned by government and holds assets such as Bindura Nickel Company (BNC) and Freda Rebecca Mine, the country’s biggest gold mine. Kuvimba also controversially holds former state-owned assets, among them Sandawana, and mining companies bought by Sotic International, a company linked to businessman Kuda Tagwirei.

BNC was listed in December last year on the VFEX, a USD-based stock market where listed firms are allowed to keep a bigger portion of their incremental export earnings.

“We also have major plans to list at least two more major companies within the next 18 months. Given the confidential nature of various regulatory processes involved in listing companies, all I can say for now is watch this space,” Chinyemba told Mining Zimbabwe.

Kuvimba produced 115,136 ounces last year from its gold mines. Among its mines are Freda Rebecca and Shamva, bought from Mzi Khumalo’s Metallon in 2020.

Worker at Shamva Mine, one of the mines now under Kuvimba

Lithium bandwagon

But Kuvimba is now looking beyond gold. Among the assets that Kuvimba took over from the state-owned ZMDC is Sandawana, once one of the world’s biggest emerald mines. The company shut down in 2011 after losing key foreign markets. Kuvimba has been exploring lithium there, Chinyemba says.

“Indeed, we are currently exploring one of our resources where current indications are that we have a very large lithium resource at Sandawana,” he says.

If Kuvimba finds enough lithium there to justify mining, it would be the first local company to join a queue of foreign firms seeking a slice of Zimbabwe’s lithium potential. According to Chinyemba, the strong foreign interest in Zimbabwean lithium is not unexpected, given the capital needed.

“Our timeline is beyond generations and therefore we acknowledge the lack of capital in our country,” he says. “In that regard, we welcome the interest in Zimbabwe lithium from foreign companies and view it as good for the economic development of our country.”

Kuvimba also holds a 47.8% stake in Great Dyke Investments, which is developing what will be the country’s biggest platinum mine in Darwendale. The project has been delayed by funding, partly due to Russian investors’ inability to raise capital. Chinyemba says the strategy for the project has had to change.

“The original project was modelled on the possibility of underground mining,” he says.  “After further exploration and analysis common to projects such as this, it is now believed that the orebody may be more amenable to an open-pit project. GDI is thus remodelling the whole Darwendale project in order to take this into account.”

Switching to opencast mining means GDI will now have to significantly revise its platinum output targets from the 860 million ounces/year that it had projected under the original underground mine plan.

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