Blessing in disguise as climate change-induced demand for green energy places Zimbabwe’s lithium mining at the top

– The increased demand for green minerals, as well as the electrification and decarbonization thrust driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is primarily fuelled by lithium, President Mnangagwa said.

John Cassim

Lithium open cast mining at Kamativi.

Harare, Zimbabwe – The global demand for green energy as a climate change mitigation measure has positioned Zimbabwean lithium production at the top.

A blessing in disguise, as they say, as global giants such as the Chinese Yahua Group saw an opportunity to invest a total of US$249 million towards the construction of a two-phased spodumene processing plant with a combined capacity of 2.3 million tonnes per annum.

This is one of the major investors in the lithium sector and has revamped the former Kamativi Tin Mine that shut down 30 years ago owing to the global price decline and dwindling demand for tin products.

The mine, now known as Kamativi Mine Company (KMC), is situated 747 km far west of the capital, has been resurrected, and has opened up job opportunities, employing 300 people directly, and approximately 1000 jobs indirectly through subcontractors.

“Your Excellency, we are delighted to share with you that since the inception of our mining operations, Kamativi Mining Company has contributed significantly to the Zimbabwean fiscus, exceeding US$ 8 million in taxes,” said Meng Yan, President of the Yahua Group of China, at the commissioning ceremony of the Phase One lithium processing plant at Kamativi Mining Company (KMC) by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa presses the switch as he commissioned lithium production at Kamativi Mine.

Effects of climate change were evident in the Hwange District and Kamativi area during the tour of the mine, with some farmers now being forced to sell their livestock for peanuts just to raise money for food.

The harvest in the entire region was affected by the El Nino-induced drought, such that the region will not be food secure until the next harvest, agronomists have revealed.

Gwayi River, a major source of water in the Kamativi area, dried up early March this year, such that the mine authorities have revealed that discussions are underway with Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) to have water distributed from upstream Gwayi Shangani dam.

Meanwhile, the demand for lithium products such as batteries owing to climate change has brought new impetus to the entire province and the nation at large.

“The Mine is now back in production, having transitioned from tin to lithium mining. This follows the energy transition necessitated by the dire impacts of climate change, which has led to a surge in demand for energy minerals such as lithium.

The increased demand for green minerals, as well as the electrification and decarbonisation thrust driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is primarily fuelled by lithium,” President Emmerson Mnangagwa said.

So far, Zimbabwe is recognized as one of the countries with the largest reserves of lithium and mines in Africa.

Globally, the southern African nation is ranked alongside the leading lithium-producing and supply countries such as Chile, Australia, China, Argentina, and Brazil.

While lithium mining is a new sub-sector in Zimbabwe, already seven lithium exploration and mining projects are at different stages of development.

If the Zimbabwean government policy thrust is adhered to, the country could end up manufacturing electrical vehicle batteries.

“The development we are witnessing today is in keeping with our policy thrust to nurture and grow an industrial base related to manufacturing and production of electrical vehicle batteries and other storage media,” President Mnangagwa said while calling for value addition and beneficiation of lithium.

Chinese investments have in the past received negative publicity owing to their failure to adhere to their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

However, Kamativi Mine Company has revealed that over US$2 million has been availed towards various community initiatives such as the restoration of community roads, revitalization of electricity and water infrastructure, and provision of essential resources to local schools and clinics.

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