GOVERNMENT is moving to explore and expand the exploitation of the country’s previously untapped high value minerals including lithium and manganese that are driving the current world technology revolution.
This comes as 60 percent of the country remains unexplored amid progressive discoveries that have put Zimbabwe on a better footing for economic development if fully exploited.
In an interview, Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura, said there was need for expansive exploration of the country to consolidate and complement minerals such as gold and platinum.
“The country is endowed with a large number of minerals. 40 percent of Zimbabwe is explored and 60 percent remains virgin and as a result there are new minerals that are coming on the market that we were not utilising all these years,” said Dep Minister Kambamura.
“Minerals like lithium are coming on the market because of the invention of electric batteries in Western, Eastern countries and developed nations. They are doing away with internal combustion engines.”
Lithium fetches about $17 000 per tonne on the world market. Bikita Minerals has been mining lithium over the years but it was largely untapped until recently when Arcadia Lithium Project in Goromonzi was commissioned.
“There is need for further exploration for ithium, small minerals but of high value like manganese and magnesium which are being used in modern technology,” he said.
Lithium is considered one of the lightest metals and is used in clean energy technology especially in batteries used in the electric gadgets and emerging electric cars. Cells in the batteries carry a lithium positive cathode and graphite as the negative anode. Its demand in countries such as China that are progressively phasing out conventional vehicles in favour of zero emission technologies, is growing.
Zimbabwe is the third largest producer of lithium in Africa and eighth in the world.
Realising the importance of the mineral, the Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (Zimseza), has granted Prospect Resources’ Arcadia Lithium Project Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status.
The status comes with favourable regulations and incentives that differ from other areas in the same country. This is expected to increase investment and facilitate Ease of Doing Business. Prospects for exports are being explored for the Australian market.