Two UK-listed companies have passed key milestones in their push to start mining lithium at separate projects in Zimbabwe, reflecting sustained interest in Zimbabwean lithium despite an uncertain outlook for the battery metal.
Galileo Resources, listed on London’s AIM market, announced on Thursday that it has started a drilling programme at the Kamativi target, where it earlier announced the discovery of previously unknown lithium potential in March. It has awarded a contract for diamond drilling, in which a mine drills holes to find out about the minerals it has.
The company believes its resource may be just as large as the estimated 42.3-million-tonne deposit at Arcadia, which is being developed by Huayou Cobalt.
“We will quickly evaluate the target with an initial drill programme to test the stacked lithium-bearing pegmatites and results will determine the extent of follow-up drilling,” says CEO Colin Bird.
Another London-listed company, Red Rock, announced that it had been granted an environmental certificate for the company’s first Zimbabwe project, clearing the path for the company to start mining.
“Zimbabwe is a top ten lithium producer, and the biggest producer in Africa, and is known for its high-grade product, company chair Andrew Bell said. “This is a significant milestone for Red Rock, and we are assessing the financial implications as we test material and delineate further the pegmatites within our licenses.”
Red Rock holds a claim in the Bikita district, near Bikita Minerals, and has applied for more licences in the Bikita areas as well as in Arcturus, near Arcadia.
Zimbabwe’s lithium potential has attracted interest from large metals companies, among them Huayou Cobalt, Sinomine and Chengxin, as well as British juniors such as Premier African Minerals, Red Rock, Galileo, Marula and Arkle of Ireland. Combined, the lithium investors have been involved in US$1 billion worth of transactions to take over and develop mining projects in Zimbabwe.
Lithium prices have softened over the past year, raising fears by some local players that it may slow down new investment in Zimbabwe. Sinomine, which runs Bikita Minerals, has forecast a 25% dip in prices this year. However, long-term demand for the metal is expected to help sustain interest in Zimbabwean lithium.