Zimbabwe Lithium Company subsidiary, Jimbata, will before the end of the year invest $10 million in setting up a plant that separates various minerals to be extracted from the Kamativi Tailings Dump. Full lithium production at the defunct tin mine in Matabeleland North is expected to begin by June next year.
In March this year, Jimbata commenced an evaluation exercise that entailed drilling holes to depths of 1 500 metres as well as sampling to determine the lithium resource in the tailings dumps at the disused mine.
Jimbata managing director Mr John McTaggart said the drilling was complete while analysis of the samples was 99 percent complete.
“We are waiting for the consultant to finalise the resource statement, which tells us the volume of the dump and the average grade of the dump.
“Within the next two weeks the consultant should provide us with the result,” he said.
“In the meantime we are doing extensive test work on the samples that we sent to South Africa for testing and we are in the final decision making process of designing the first plant that we will be installing during the course of this year at the mine.
The first plant will probably be somewhere between $7 and $10 million.” Mr McTaggart said the first phase of the project would create 250 jobs.
Preliminary results of the samples have been positive but Jimbata was not allowed to make that decision as an independent consultant was supposed to make the pronouncement.
It is envisaged that results of the programme would be used for production of the NI 43-101 Compliant Resource Estimate for the Kamativi Tailings Project, being done under the supervision of the MSA Group.
In line with Government’s call for beneficiation of mineral resources, Jimbata is also looking at beneficiating spodumene to lithium carbonate in the next three years.
Before its closure in 1994 due to the depressed international price of tin, Kamativi Tin Mine was wholly-owned by the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, which has since partnered Jimbata to revive operations at the mine.
As Kamativi re-opens, lithium would be the major mineral to be extracted under the $1,4 billion project where tin will also be extracted from the tailings dump.
Lithium production is fast emerging as a potential game changer for Zimbabwe’s mining industry and economy at large as foreign investors have shown commitment towards the exploitation of the mineral.
The mineral is an essential element in the production of batteries used in electric vehicles. Zimbabwe is endowed with vast lithium deposits but production is still lagging behind other global producers of the mineral, with only one company Bikita Resources, presently producing.