UK’s Red Rock Resources is the latest to seek a slice of Zimbabwe’s lithium assets

Red Rock Resources plc, a UK-listed exploration company, has acquired lithium claims in Zimbabwe and is setting up a lithium exploration unit in the country to hunt for more.

The company, quoted on London’s AIM market for smaller companies, has bought land in Bikita, near where Bikita Minerals has already been mining petalite. Red Rock will establish a new company, African Lithium Resources (ALR), in which it will hold 75%. The other 15% will be held by an unnamed local partner.

Red Rock already owns some battery mineral prospects in the DRC – it is exploring copper and cobalt there – and its CEO Andrew Bell has explained why Zimbabwe is looking attractive for lithium explorers.

“(Zimbabwe’s) pegmatites have a mineral endowment that has considerable expansion potential, and international investors have shown themselves willing to invest in lithium exploration and development in this traditional mining country that has been in disfavour for decades,” Bell said Thursday.

Red Rock said it bought the 51-hectare claim from a local company, Thebe Resources. It is applying for more licences in the Bikita areas as well as in Arcturus, where Prospect Resources has been developing Arcadia Mine.

“The company set up African Lithium Resources after discussion with its local partner and others with a view to seeking further investment and developing a significant presence in lithium, leading potentially to listing,” Red Rock says.

Zimbabwe lithium rush?

Red Rock’s buy is the latest in a series of recent foreign moves into Zimbabwean lithium.

Since November, there have been at least six Zimbabwe lithium transactions, of various sizes.

Last November, China’s Shengxin Lithium paid US$76.5 million for 51% of MaxMind Hong Kong, which holds the Sabi Star lithium-tantalum project in Zimbabwe.

In December, China’s Huayou announced it would pay US$42 million for Arcadia. It was a big win for Prospect Resources, which had spent about US$26 million on exploration and evaluation. That transaction has piqued the interest of other explorers, keen to also ride on rising global demand for lithium.

In February, Sinomine Resources bought a controlling stake in Bikita Minerals for US$180 million.

Smaller players are now also making their punts.

In March, UK resources investor Galileo Resources said it would spend US$1.5 million to explore for lithium and gold in Zimbabwe after being granted the option to acquire 51% of a local prospecting firm.

Red Rock is also present in the DRC, where it has Luanshimba copper-cobalt project in the Haut-Katanga province. The company has mineral assets in Kenya, Australia, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire.

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