Zim to become largest lithium producer

HARARE - Zimbabwe is poised to become one of the largest lithium producers in the world due to increased global demand.

The investment-starved country produced 900 tonnes of lithium in 2015, with top producer Australia accounting for 13 400 tonnes, Chile for 12 900 tonnes, Argentina for 3 800 tonnes and China for 2 200 tonnes.

However, anticipated global demand for lithium — popularly known as “white petroleum” — may increase production of the mineral that powers rechargeable devices, including telephones and automobiles.

American automaker Tesla’s plans to mass-produce its Model 3 battery-powered car have stoked worldwide demand. Tesla estimated its production target for electric cars alone — 500 000 vehicles by 2020 — could require as much lithium as is already currently being produced.

Zimbabwe, the fifth largest producer of lithium on the planet, could increase its share of a growing market.

Currently, minerals exploration and mining company Premier African Minerals is looking for partners to expand its lithium and tantalum mining operations at its Zulu project, in Zimbabwe.

Additionally, Australasia-based publicly listed mining company Prospect Resources has also secured diamond-drilling services for its recently acquired Arcadia lithium project, also in Zimbabwe, and has declared a maiden resource estimate of 36 million tonnes at 1,17 percent lithium oxide.

Prospect Resources chairperson Hugh Warner said the company’s recently completed prefeasibility study results have backed the company’s aim to become a significant producer of quality spodumene, petalite and tantalite concentrates in the near-term through development of the Arcadia project.

Based on maiden ore reserves of 15,8 metric tonnes, at 1,34 percent lithium oxide and 125 ppm Ta2O5, the project will be developed into a 1,2 metric tonnes per annum mining and processing operation with a mine-life of 15 years.

“In the space of less than a year, we have developed Arcadia to a stage where we have defined a globally significant deposit containing highly-sought after lithium products in spodumene and petalite,” Warner said.

“We are now confident that Arcadia will have the ability to produce battery grade lithium, glass and ceramic grade lithium and tantalite products to the market by late-2018. Following government environmental and financial approvals and coupled with the excellent results of this PFS, the development of Arcadia can now be fast-tracked,” he added

Prospect Resources intends to sign offtake agreements and secure funding to develop the asset.

According to the prefeasibility study, the Arcadia project is expected to have an internal rate of return of 39 percent, and a pre-tax net present value of $139 million, with projected mine revenues of $2 billion over the life of the project.

Furthermore, the company is evaluating the establishment of a lithium carbonate and hydroxide chemical plant at the Arcadia project, with another ongoing prefeasibility study expected to be completed in the third quarter this year.

Comments (3)

Then ZMDC will take over and no one knows where the funds are going.

Zuze - 11 July 2017

Where is this "Zulu project" in Zimbabwe - is it in Masvingo, Muzarabani, Hwange

s shumba - 12 July 2017

wish to buy spondumene from Zimbabwe,please introducing producers for contact,thanks

yuan wu - 1 November 2017

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