Story by Owen Mandovha, Business Reporter
THE government is preparing the mining sector to focus on minerals such as lithium, nickel, and uranium ahead of an expected jump in global demand and prices.
The price of the minerals is expected to go up by margins of between 20 and 40-fold.
Lauded as the white gold, lithium is expected to define the future of mining across the globe, as nations implement energy transition to reduce carbon emissions.
Mining experts are already positioning Zimbabwe as a lithium hub, after massive discoveries of the commodity at key mines including Prospect Resources, Bikita Minerals, Sabi Star, and the latest exploration at Sandawana Mine in Mberengwa.
The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development has implored players in the industry to maximise the anticipated growth in demand for lithium, nickel, and uranium, among other minerals.
“We are going to be focusing more on energy transition minerals. The minerals sector will play a pivotal role in the transition towards low carbon. Estimates suggest that more than 30 minerals will be needed. Foremost are nickel, and lithium among others. There is need for our country to establish an industrial hub, and value add. Research has also indicated demand for lithium is expected to increase by 42 times by 2040. This therefore means there is a need for the country to venture more into future minerals such as lithium,” said the Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Honourable Polite Kambamura.
Exploration at one of the country’s largest lithium findings, Sandawana Mine in Mberengwa, is expected to position the country as a lead supplier of the commodity.
“Currently we have completed the first stage of our drilling process, and we are expecting the final chemical process to be done by the end of this month (November). The result of that is expected to give us a resource of around 30 million tonnes at a grade of about 1.6 of lithium oxide which is a very high grade. We have already embarked on the second phase of the exploration process; drilling has started, and we expect that to be done by the end of the first quarter of 2024. The expectation there is that we will be able to double our resource,” Sandawana Mine Energy Cluster director, Mr Trevor Barnard explained.
Zimbabwe sits on an impressive lithium ore reserve, rated to be the highest in Africa, with Sandawana Mine findings estimated at around 200 million tonnes.
Players in the industry such as Bikita Minerals and Sabi Star have already started value addition of the ore, a move described by experts as a critical plinth to boost export receipts from the commodity.