BIKITA Minerals intends to invest US$200 million in the construction of a new spodumene (chemical grade-lithium) processing plant and the expansion of its existing petalite (technical grade-lithium) processing plant.
This comes after the company, which was accused in certain quarters of looting the country’s lithium, said the company was in compliance with the nation’s regulations.
Zimbabwe is targeting US$500 million from lithium exports by next year as the country moves closer to the target of a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023.
“Since Sinomine acquired Bikita Minerals in January 2022, the company has carried out all business activities under Zimbabwean regulatory requirements and laws, including fundamental construction, increasing investment, initiating minerals exploration, especially starting to process low-grade ore and expanding production,” said Bikita Minerals in a communiqué.
Bikita Minerals further said it would construct a 110km, 132-kilovolt-a-second power line from Tokow to Bikita via Masvingo, which has potential to bolster the state grid and benefit the entire Masvingo province.
Bikita Minerals also hinted at its prospects to create employment for local people soon after the spodumene plant begins operations.
“… we are expecting to recruit more than 1 000 local employees after the commission of the new spodumene plant, which will create more work opportunities for the local community and follow with a more harmonious community atmosphere,” added Bikita Minerals.
The lithium miner pointed out that Sinomine was dedicated to contributing more to employees, the community and the country at large. Bikita Minerals further stated that after the investment and construction are completed, they expect an annual foreign exchange income of US$300 million, allowing the Government to collect more tax for utility use.
Bikita Minerals was last year acquired by Sinomine Resource Group. Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando expressed confidence over the new owner as the rush over lithium continues in light of the mineral’s use in the manufacturing of electric vehicles whose use is growing by the day.
A 2016 geological survey revealed that Zimbabwe’s lithium deposits were the largest in Africa with known deposits that are located in Bikita, Goromonzi, Kamativi, and the Zulu Mine near Shangani.
Goromonzi houses the Arcadia Mine which exchanged hands from the Australian Stock Exchange-listed Prospect Resources to Chinese company Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Limited late last year.
Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Limited acquired a controlling 87 percent stake in Arcadia Mine through a US$422 million deal.
Zulu Lithium and Tantalum Project which is owned by Premier African Minerals’ is considered as possibly the largest undeveloped lithium-bearing pegmatite in Zimbabwe, located 80 kilometres from Bulawayo the country’s second-largest city.