CHINESE firm, Huayou, expects to create up to 1 000 new jobs during the construction and production phases of the Arcadia lithium project following the firm’s US$372 million acquisition of Zimbabwe based lithium-ion batteries mineral producer.
A global corporation based in Tongxiang, China, Huayou announced the acquisition of the Arcadia lithium project from Prospect Resources Plc and minority shareholders on April 20, 2022.
Following the acquisition, the company said it would invest US$300 million to develop the mine and construct a processing plant over the next 12 months.
The mine will have capacity to treat about 4,5 million tonnes of ore per annum, translating to roughly 400 000 tonnes of lithium concentrate per annum, the company said yesterday.
The massive investment by Huayou has potential to significantly transform the local community and drive economic growth in Zimbabwe.
President Mnangagwa officiated at the ground breaking ceremony for the project in April 2018 and dovetails into his “Zimbabwe open for business mantra”.
Lithium is of strategic importance to Zimbabwe’s economy and forms a crucial element of the Second Republic’s target to build a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023.
The mineral, whose popularity has grown tremendously in recent years amid growing demand in the production of electric vehicles, is expected to contribute half a billion US dollars by that time.
Notably, mining in general is an integral part of Zimbabwe’s economy given it generates more than 75 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings and accounts for at least 12 percent of gross domestic product.
Huayou’s Arcadia project is Africa’s most advanced lithium project and would further elevate Zimbabwe’s status, already world fifth largest producer with a single active mine (Bikita Minerals), as a major global producer of battery lithium minerals.
Huayou said the Arcadia project would be implemented with special attention to the necessary environmental care to limit to a bare minimum emissions that harm the environment.
The company also pledged significant investments in the latest technology to produce lithium concentrate and has committed itself to ensure the knowledge is also transferred to its employees.
“Huayou estimates that there will be more than 600 Zimbabweans employed during the construction phase while direct employment during the production phase will be between 700 and 900 employees,” the company said.
The Chinese battery minerals producer pointed out that priority for employment would be given to people from the local community and around the mine site, 38 kilometres east of Harare in Goromonzi.
“There will be focus on training and development, as well as finding suitable graduates from universities in Zimbabwe for attachment programmes,” Huayou said.
The company said it would continue to focus on corporate social responsibility and has already invested in a local school, Vhuta, which is near the mine site.
A CSR committee has already established a needs analysis conducted in wards surrounding the area to determine areas that should be accorded priority.
“The CSR committee will focus on implementation of CSR projects to address the needs including employment, education, health, accessibility to potable water initiatives.”
The company said it had a proud record of CSR investments initiatives in agriculture, education, training and medical support at its operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“In 2016, the agricultural project launched in the DRC was enrolled by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations as a demonstration project of Chinese foreign economic and technological cooperation,” Huayou said.
Huayo is a global corporation that specialises research in development, manufacturing and sale of lithium-ion battery and cobalt minerals. The firm was established in 2002 and set up African operations in 2006.
The company acquired its first mining assets in the DRC in 2009. Since then, the company has gone on an expansion and investment crusade to become a global leader in refined cobalt materials and lithium iron battery materials.
Huayou has a global footprint with operations in South America, Africa, Indonesia and China as well as a customer base in the USA, Europe, China and South Korea.
Amid growing demand for lithium, triggered by the transition to clean energy sources for electric vehicles, Zimbabwe is among countries hogging global limelight as investors take positions in the country.
Chengxin Lithium Group started the spate of several lithium asset acquisitions in Zimbabwe last November when it bought a 51 percent interest in Max Mind Investments’ Sabi based Star Lithium Mine in eastern Zimbabwe at a cost of US$77 million.
Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt then followed when it announced in December last year it would purchase an 87 percent stake in Zimbabwe’s Arcadia Mine lithium project from Australia’s Prospect Resources.
On February 8, 2022 the Sinomine Resource Group revealed it had paid US$180 million to acquire 100 percent of African Metals Management Services and Southern African Metals and Minerals, which jointly own 74 percent of Bikita Minerals.