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Interview: Godwin Gambiza – General Manager Sandawana Mine

Interview: Godwin Gambiza – General Manager Sandawana Mine

Godwin Gambiza

Mr Godwin Gambiza may you please provide an overview of the current exploration activities taking place at the Sandawana lithium mine?

Exploration at Sandawana is taking place in a 38,8 square kilometre lease owned by Kuvimba Mining House. The exercise is aimed at finding the total lithium resource and associated minerals like Tantalite, niobium, emeralds, and beryllium.

Godwin gambiza 5
Godwin Gambiza 

The programme is divided into four phases. The first is almost complete and a resource of 29 million tones at an estimated grade of 1.42% of lithium oxide has been estimated. This consists of 20 million tonnes of Measured resource, 2 million tons of Indicated Resource and 7 million tonnes of Inferred Resource.

A second phase targeting 30 million tonnes of lithium oxide has been planned and will commence end of August 2023.

At the end of all phases, it is expected that the mine will achieve 200 million tonnes of Resource.

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What specific objectives and goals are the exploration teams aiming to achieve through their efforts at the mine?

  • Phase 1 -Unlocking a Resource amounting to 26 million tonnes of Measured Resource @ 1.8% lithium oxide.
  • Unlocking 30 million tonnes of Indicated and inferred Resouce in Phase 2.
  • Unlocking 200 million tonnes of lithium oxide by the end of the exploration exercise.

How extensive is the exploration area being covered, and what methods or techniques are being used to identify potential lithium deposits?

The lease area covers 38,8 square kilometres.

Methods used include:-

  • electromagnetic Survey
  • Geological Mapping
  • Trenching
  • Soils sampling and analysis
  • Diamond drilling

Are there any specific geological features or indicators that the exploration team is focusing on while exploring for lithium at the mine?

  • The team looks for pegmatite rock and spodumene within the pegmatite
  • Future exploration will also look at the contact between pegmatite and serpentinite. This is where Berrylium and Emeralds are found.

What technologies or equipment are being utilized to aid in the exploration process and enhance the efficiency of identifying lithium deposits?

Electromagnetic technology, geological modelling, X-Ray Diffraction techniques and Wet Chemical analysis using ICP and AAS are some of the technologies and methods being utilised to aid exploration.

Can you share any preliminary findings or significant discoveries made during the current exploration initiative at the Chandawana lithium mine?

This exercise is still ongoing but so far significant ore bodies that are estimated at 20 million tonnes of measured resource, 2 million tonnes of Indicated Resource and 7 million inferred resource have been discovered. This is from phase 1 of the exercise. The program is entering phase 2 targeting 30 million tonnes of Indicated and Inferred resource

Are there any notable challenges or obstacles that the exploration teams have encountered while conducting their work? How are these being addressed?

No major challenges or obstacles identified so far. The exercise has largely been according to the plan.

What environmental impact assessments have been conducted to ensure the exploration activities are being carried out responsibly and sustainably?

An EIA has been issued to cover the exploration exercise. An EIA identifies all adverse conditions and provides ways to mitigate any impacts, including rehabilitation. We are following recommendations in the EIA.

What measures are in place to ensure the safety of the exploration teams and minimize any potential risks associated with their work?

  • Risk assessment is carried out every day before the commencement of work.
  • Safety talks are carried out every morning.
  • Safety inspections are carried out daily by supervisors.
  • A Safety Complaint book has been provided for employees to record any safety-related observations.

How does the current exploration align with the long-term development plans and objectives of the Chandawana lithium mine?

Chandawana aims to be a world-class mine producing 4,5 million tonnes of lithium concentrate sustainably per annum. This can only be achieved through intensive exploration. The exercise aims to produce 200 million tonnes. This dovetails into the 4,5 million per annum production for a period exceeding 20 years.

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Are there any plans to expand or modify the exploration activities based on the progress and findings thus far?

The findings so far are very exciting and have given an impetus to intensify the exercise as this provides a strategic fit with the overall company objectives.

How does the current exploration initiative fit into the overall strategy for the Chandawana lithium mine’s future production and supply of lithium?

The current exploration initiative fits well with the overall strategy- Chandawana Mines to be a world-class producer of lithium and related products. In order for it to achieve that, it then has to have a huge high-grade resource. This is exactly what the current exploration exercise aims to achieve – A 200 million-tonne deposit.

Are there any partnerships or collaborations with external organizations or industry experts involved in the exploration activities at the mine?

The two laboratories analysing samples are from South Africa (Intertek and SGS). Two of the 4 exploration companies are foreign and the other 2 drilling companies are local. Both local and foreign geologists are working on the project.

Can you provide any insights into the timeframe for completion of the current exploration phase and potential future exploration initiatives?

The 4 phases of exploration should be completed within 2 years. But there would be a need to look for the other minerals that the exercise is not specifically looking at, for example, emerald. These require a different exploration technique. These will then fall into a different programme outside the 4 phases.

What impact do you expect the results of this exploration to have on the overall profitability and sustainability of the Chandawana lithium mine?

Overall profitability would be very high considering that most deposits that are being found outcrop to the surface. Sustainability is also guaranteed driven by the positive exploration results that have been obtained so far. A huge deposit guarantees profitability and Sustainability.


This interview first appeared in issue 67 of Mining Zimbabwe Magazine

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