Miners Indaba to focus on lithium value addition

Discussions around lithium beneficiation and value addition are expected  to top this year’s edition of the Chamber of Mines Zimbabwe (CoMZ) annual mining conference to be held later this month in Victoria Falls.

Industry players will use its annual conference to discuss ways to optimise returns from the global sought after minerals, which Zimbabwe was until recently the 6th largest producer with only a single active mine.

 A number of lithium projects are presently under development in Zimbabwe, with Australia Stock Exchange listed Prospect Resources Plc’ Arcadia project coming on stream last month.

The stage has been set for value addition and beneficiation of the mineral locally, after the Government earlier this year gazetted legislation that bans export of raw lithium.

CoMZ annual congress, to be held from May 30 to June 2 2023 at Elephant Hills and Resorts in Zimbabwe’s foremost tourism city the conference, will run under the theme “Mining for Economic Transformation, Creating Enablers for the Mining Industry.”

Mines and Mineral Development Minister Winston Chitando will be the Guest of Honour at the annual event.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Dr John Mangudya is also expected to grace the event to share policy direction on monetary issues and foreign exchange developments.

International dignitaries expected at the event include George Botshiwe, second vice president of the Chamber of Mines of Namibia and South African thermal coal producer Thungela CEO July Ndlovu.

According to CoMZ, the theme is motivated by desire to create an enabling environment that will sustain and contribute to broader economic transformation.

The event is coming when demand for lithium is expected to continue rising, driven primarily by the increasing adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs) globally, as countries take action to reduce carbon emissions.

There is huge potential for Zimbabwe to establish value addition and beneficiation facilities, such as a lithium-ion battery manufacturing industry, which would create jobs and increase the value of the country’s lithium exports.

Earlier this year, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube promised to avail US$20 million for a partnership with any investor willing to set up a lithium battery manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe. The mines conference will cover the broader issues about mining and opportunities in the sector while exhibitions will be carried on the sidelines of the event.

CoMZ chief executive officer (CEO, Isaac Kwesu said the event would seek to unleash the growth potential of the battery mineral value chain.

He said the event would deal with topical issues and events related to lithium as an emerging mineral central in the battery value chain.

“As Zimbabwe we are endowed with the lithium resource, and there has been a lot of debate on how best we can maximise value and how we can beneficiate our lithium.

‘‘At this event there will be an opportunity to discuss how Zimbabwe can position itself and benefit from its lithium resource endowment, and maximise its contribution to manufacturing of batteries,’’ said Mr Kwesu.

He said the event will also proffer solutions on lacking long term capital and the prevailing power issues that have been undermining the sector’s potential.

In general the Mining sector has been recording exponential growth over the past five years. In 2022, the mining industry managed US$5,4 billion in exports against a targeted projection of US$8 billion, representing over 80 percent of the national export value.

The mining sector relies heavily on foreign currency for the importation of key equipment and other consumables not manufactured locally.

Several international guest speakers have been lined up to cross pollinate ideas on how best Zimbabwe can maximise on lithium resource and the battery mineral value chain .

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