It is not a secret that Lithium has attracted world recognition as a significant mineral playing a substantial role in electric cars and other clean tech gadgets, Zimbabwe has not been spared on this development as prospecting for lithium in the country has increased significantly.
According to a government official, although most lithium projects in Zimbabwe are at the exploration stage, there has been a lot of prospecting and pegging of lithium mining claims in Zimbabwe.
“Most projects are still in the exploration stage, however, a few lithium projects are in the mine development stage. We also have noted a lot of pegging and prospecting for lithium though not to the extent of overwhelming our provincial mines offices,” Dr Kambamura said.
It has been reviewed that due to the increase in the world’s appetite for electric vehicles (EVs) demand is expected to rise in the coming years.
A February study from S&P Global Platts Analytics found that “global light duty electric vehicle sales reached a record high of 6.3 million units in 2021, up 102% year on year, with this number expected to rise to 26.8 million units in 2030. The updated 2030 forecast is 23% higher than the earlier forecast, published in June 2021.
As automakers (and the renewable energy sector) scramble for lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, rare earths, aluminum, manganese, and copper securing supply may ultimately be a bigger issue than costs.
To produce 20m vehicles Tesla alone needs more than the total volume of lithium and natural graphite produced last year, almost a third of the magnet rare earths, 36% of the cobalt, and so on, this shows that finding new lithium deposits is of importance to sustain the rise in demand of EVs.
Australia Stock Exchange-listed mining and exploration junior Prospect Resources is confident that the exploration of battery and electrification metals such as cobalt, lithium, manganese and nickel in Zimbabwe can bring extremely significant results.
According to a company report signed by Prospect Resources Corporate Development Manager Mr Nick Rathjen, the firm is highly motivated that Zimbabwe is the best mining destination for battery and electrification metals that are targeted towards the world agenda to go green.
“Zimbabwe is highly prospective for targeted battery and electrification metals,” Rathjen said.
Zimbabwe has the potential to supply over 20% of the world’s lithium appetite and the potential ability to supply over half of Europe’s demand for the next 30 years.
Renowned research groups have predicted that the European Union will need about 60 times more lithium than it is currently consuming and 15 times more cobalt for electric vehicles (EV) batteries and energy storage by 2050. It is estimated that the demand for rare earths minerals used in high-tech devices and military applications will increase 10-fold in Europe over the same period.
The European Union will not be able to ditch lithium and raw earth imports due to the world’s adoption of clean energy and the fact that recycling of elements could be deemed a danger to the climate.
Bikita Minerals is currently the only active lithium mine in Zimbabwe with several other lithium projects at various stages of development, establishing its position among the major producers in the world.
Lithium was classified by the government as strategic in helping the country achieve the US$12 BILLION mark by 2023 with the mineral fetching half a billion.
The country also boasts of MIRRORPLEX (Pvt) Limited’s lithium project in Shamva which is postured to become Zimbabwe’s biggest hard rock lithium producer. Mirrorplex has the potential to grow into a world-class lithium mine with Results from 240 Rock Chip samples taken from the exposed Bonnyvale pegmatite body at the Shamva Lithium Project providing high-grade lithium assay results up to 3.13% Li2O and surface sampling at the Loch Ness prospect revealed two more pegmatites containing high Li2O grades up to 4.82% Li2O.
Other lithium projects are Arcadia by Prospect Resources, Zulu, and Kamativi projects which would cement the country’s position in the global lithium market.
Zimbabwe should now focus on value addition by reopening closed factories thus becoming one of the largest suppliers of lithium batteries and clean energy.
This article first appeared in the September 2022 issue of the Mining Zimbabwe Magazine