The ban on the export of raw lithium is expected to be enshrined into the country’s laws this weekend President Emmerson Mnangagwa has announced.
In his address at a rally in Buhera north yesterday, the first citizen said it was shameful that people were invading areas with lithium, selling the resource at little amounts ranging from US$ 100/tonne yet when the lithium is processed reaches up to US$ 7000/tonne and smuggling the battery-making mineral.
“People are selling lithium for paltry amounts, yet when it is processed it reaches up to us$7000. Now we hear there are truckloads crossing the borders (South Africa). We had no law to prohibit this from happening. For those who were doing it, days are numbered because this very weekend we will gazette a law that will prohibit lithium ore from leaving the country. If you are caught doing so you will be jailed for a long long time.
This was not the first time Mnangagwa had mentioned his disdain for the way lithium clandestinely left Zimbabwe.
At the official commissioning of the US$67 million new Central Shaft Expansion Project at Blanket Mine in Gwanda last month President Mnangagwa said if the country was to achieve its vision of becoming an upper middle-income economy by 2030, greater effort was supposed to be made to ensure that the export of raw minerals and concentrates is been banned.
“In line with Vision 2030, greater efforts should be made towards value addition and beneficiation of minerals. We cannot as a country continue to export primary products including concentrates and ores. Recently in Mberengwa, we discovered that there was a mountain with nothing but lithium and our people were collecting this lithium ore and being paid something like US$100 when that same quantity will fetch more than a thousand to US$2000 and then exporting it unprocessed, so Zimbabwe loses. Within a few days I’m gazetting a law prohibiting what has been happening in Mberengwa,” Mnangagwa said at the time.
He also mentioned that he was aware that some of his colleagues were involved in the illegal trading and smuggling of the commodity.
Zimbabwe has the largest lithium reserves in Africa and the fifth-largest deposits worldwide. It has the highest number of Lithium projects under exploration on the continent and currently has several mines in the exploration and production phase. These are Bikita Minerals, Arcadia lithium mine, Sabi Star Lithium Mine, MIRRORPLEX Lithium project, Zulu Lithium and Tantalum Project, Step Aside Lithium project, and Kamativi Lithium project.