ZIMBABWE is set to be one of the world’s leading exporters of lithium following the construction of a US$300 million plant by Huayou Cobalt, a Chinese company in Goromonzi, Mashonaland East Province.
The plant is projected to start production early next year with a capacity to treat 4,5 million tonnes of ore and produce 400 000 tonnes of lithium concentrate per annum.
Speaking during a media tour at the Acadia lithium project in Goromonzi on Monday, the company’s deputy general manager Trevor Barnard said the project would make Zimbabwe take a leading position on the global energy value chain.
“In the first quarter next year we will start with the commissioning and production of lithium concentrate from this site.
“The plan is to export that concentrate and make Zimbabwe one of the biggest petalite and spodumene plants in Africa,” said Barnard.
The company is a high-tech enterprise founded in 2002 and listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of around US$20 billion.
“It’s also a leading supplier of lithium carbonate as well as cobalt materials to the lithium ion battery industry and that is the space that we wish to operate in.
“We have got operations and interests from South America, DRC, and Indonesia, China and now Zimbabwe and a strong customer base across the world supplying product to China, South Korea, USA and Europe
“So it’s a large company with a huge footprint,” Barnard added.
Meanwhile, the Chinese mining company said through its mining journey in Zimbabwe it was determined to work with the community to avoid disagreements.
“Even though the Chinese community has not received good publicity in Zimbabwe, they want to be different and they want to do it through the social corporate responsibility sector.
“We are aware as a project that there has been precedence that has been set by other operators where things have not gone very well in terms of the community and we would like Acadia to be a shining example of how business and communities can uplift each other,” said Paul Chimbodza, the project executive consultant.
Huayou recently completed a $422 million purchase of the hard-rock lithium mine from Australia-listed Prospect Resources and other Zimbabwean minorities.
This comes as Lithium prices have soared this year as carmakers have struggled to source the metal used in electric vehicle batteries.
The Chinese firm said it would employ 600 locals during the construction phase, with up to 900 jobs being created when production begins.