Mining which is a significant economic sector is expected to earn US$500 million annually by 2023 with lithium extraction designated as a fundamental part of the Government’s US$12 billion mining industry target.
Lithium mining is also directed at fostering rapid economic growth towards the achievement of an upper middle-income growth by 2030.
In an interview with BusinessMail, Norman Mukwakwami who is a mineral economist said the global demand for lithium has been rising during the last two months driven by China’s economic recovery.
“Lithium prices have gone up in response to the rising demand, producers will respond by increasing production so the rise in prices might not continue for very long.
“Either way prices in the short to medium term should be better than over the last two years,” Mukwakwami said.
With the propagation of Electric Vehicles (EV), the metal has become so popular since one of the key ingredient of EV batteries is lithium.
“The United States of America Government recently announced that all Government vehicles will be electric and this contributes to long term demand for lithium,” Mukwakwami said.
Nevertheless, there is a cause of concern when it comes to harnessing the potential lithium holds.
In Zimbabwe and Africa at large, there is need to create industries that use the metal and also value-addition which has a backward integration of employment creation.
“African countries have very little capacity to manufacture lithium batteries and because of that they do not buy lithium from Zimbabwe.
Export data may show some lithium going from Mozambique and South Africa but that is mainly sales to middlemen in those countries who go on to export overseas,” Mukwakwami said.
Australia-based, Prospect Resources is set to develop a small commercial scale pilot plant at Arcadia Lithium plant near Harare and it has already signed off take agreements with buyers in Europe.
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