The Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (Zida) CEO, Tafadzwa Chinamo, has stated that lithium could surpass gold as the country’s primary forex earner due to increasing investor interest in the mineral.
Chinamo revealed that there had been a significant surge in investor interest in lithium this year, with many enquiries and licenses issued by ZIDA dominated by mining. He also noted that lithium is the buzzword these days, and if the entire value chain of lithium is explored, there is no reason why it cannot surpass gold.
“Investor interest is definitely there as you shall see from the (soon to be released investment) figures. There was a lot of investments, a lot of enquiries, a lot of licences issued by Zida dominated obviously by mining,” he told a local weekly.
“Lithium is the buzz (word) these days, so a lot of investment is going in there. The trend continued in 2023 if not at a faster pace so there is definitely interest. If we do the entire value chain of lithium, I don’t see why it can’t surpass gold. If you are processing it to those levels or much, much, more then definitely it will be a major export.”
Lithium’s popularity stems from the fact that it is a key component of electric vehicle batteries, and global EV sales are skyrocketing. According to American financial services provider Fitch Solutions, Zimbabwe is one of two emerging lithium producers on the global market, with global production projected to quadruple between 2022 and 2031.
Zimbabwe’s top lithium miners are Chinese firms Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, Sinomine Resource Group, and Chengxin Lithium Group, which have invested over $600 million in their operations. The country is expected to produce 54,500 tonnes of lithium this year, a 9% increase from last year, according to the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe.
Chinamo believes that if lithium is processed to its maximum potential or beyond, it can be a significant export commodity, generating more forex revenue than gold. Official statistics indicate that gold generates over $1 billion in export revenue annually. He stated that investor interest in the mineral is growing, and the trend is expected to continue in 2023.
Zimbabwe’s lithium sector is booming, and the mineral’s potential economic benefits are enormous. If harnessed correctly, lithium could be a game-changer for the country’s economy, surpassing gold as the primary forex earner.