Lithium is set to transform the country’s economy following a fresh scramble for the mineral by foreign companies after new deposits were discovered around Harare, Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister, Engineer Fred Moyo has said. In an interview in Mberengwa South recently, Eng Moyo said there were new deposits of lithium in areas surrounding Harare and foreign companies have been jostling for mining licences.
Eng Moyo said Government was shifting focus to lithium following an increased demand for the mineral worldwide adding that this could be a breakthrough for Zimbabwe.
“There is a scramble for lithium. Right now we have a lot of lithium potential around Harare.
“If you check and investigate what is happening, foreign companies are scrambling for lithium around Harare in the similar manner that European countries scrambled for Africa. The world is going to be run on the basis of batteries. We are hoping that that sector will take off. Zimbabwe has vast deposits of lithium.
“Kamativi Tin Mine has three very big resources. Bikita Minerals are on an expansion drive.
“They are expanding. We also have some lithium deposits in Mberengwa, Mutoko and around Harare. Lithium has a big potential because the future is lithium,” he said.
Eng Moyo said Government was pinning its hopes on the revival of Kamativi Tin Mine and the expansion of Bikita Minerals as these are some of the biggest lithium mines in the country with vast deposits.
He said Government will speed up the finalisation of the Kamativi deal that will result in the Matabeleland North based mine resuming production after 21 years.
“There are sub-agreements that we are scrutinising at Kamativi. The main agreement has been sealed. We are now looking at the technical agreement, the funding agreement, marketing agreement and many other issues because if you carelessly look at these, the main agreement might not work.”
Lithium is mainly used as a component of rechargeable Li-ion batteries and as a treatment for several types of mental disorders.
Its use in Li-ion batteries is perhaps the most common and most important use. It is found in rechargeable batteries that power cellphones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, digital cameras, and even electric cars. It is also found in non-rechargeable batteries, which provide power for clocks, heart pacemakers, and various toys.
As lithium carbonate, it has been prescribed for conditions such as manic depression and bipolar disorder. It acts on the nervous system, and it can modify actions and behaviour.
It is also used as an alloy mixed with aluminium, so that it can strengthen aircraft. This alloy can also be used for high-speed trains and high-quality bicycle frames.
Lithium fetches $7 475 per tonne on the international market.
Eng Moyo also said Government would soon revive the 30 million tonne chrome ore export facility to assist some mines, and promote small scale mining.