Prospect exports over 100 000 tonnes of lithium concentrate
Oliver Kazunga Senior Business Reporter
PROSPECT Lithium Zimbabwe (PLZ) has exported over 100 000 tonnes of lithium concentrate since April this year while in excess of 2 500 jobs have been created directly and indirectly.
Following the successful conclusion of a US$377,8 million upfront cash consideration last year under a share sale agreement from Prospect Resources by China’s Huayou International Mining for 87 percent stake in Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe, a US$300 million processing plant was installed at the mine before the asset started exporting lithium concentrate towards the end of April this year.
The lithium operation is based in Goromonzi District, Mashonaland East Province.
The Government has commended PLZ for commissioning the US$300 million processing facility highlighting that this is yet another milestone in the socio-economic transformation and prosperity for the country.
In a statement released this week, PLZ quoted Mashonaland East Minister of Provincial Affairs and Devolution Apollonia Munzverengwi expressing the province’s gratitude to be hosting such a giant lithium producer.
“It is actually one of the biggest in Africa. The plant was pre-commissioned in March 2023. As the PLZ general manager Mr Henry Zhu briefed me, they are currently in the process of ramping up production to processing plant design capacity of 4,5 million tonnes per annum,” she said.
“To date they have produced in excess of 120 000 tonnes of both spodumene and petalite concentrate and exported over 100 000 tonnes.
“This is a very good development and as a province, we are proud of it.”
Under the US$12 billion mining economy by the end of this year, the lithium sector is expected to contribute US$500 million.
As a base metal, lithium is used in the manufacturing of batteries and its demand has arisen sharply due to the global demand in electric vehicles, particularly in developed countries that are forging ahead with plans to phase out fossil fuels like petrol and diesel in the coming years.
Minister Munzverengwi said as a result of PLZ’s operations, Mashonaland East Province’s Gross Domestic Product will never be the same again.
“Let me say on top of PLZ there are a number of companies also coming to invest in the province in granite, gold and lithium mining.
“As for PLZ an excess of US$700 million including US$422 million that was used to acquire the project from the initial owners who were Prospect Resources of Australia as well as an additional US$300 million used for mine development and plant construction,” she said.
The exceptional thing about PLZ, she said, is that it is a big company whose plant has capacity to process 4,5 million tonnes of lithium ore per year producing 450 000 tonnes of concentrate. Currently, PLZ employs in excess of 2 500 local Zimbabwean people including contractors and sub-contractors.
On the corporate social responsibility (CSR) front, PLZ is embarking on community health intervention programmes to enhance access to health facilities in Goromonzi and the province at large.
Minister Munzverengwi said the company has also embarked on educational programmes to improve access to educational facilities in host communities at ward and district levels.
PLZ is also undertaking sustainable environmental management initiatives to minimise lithium mining and processing impacts to the environment.
“The company is also involved in capacity building and skills transfer programmes and this entails supporting communities to be self-sufficient through employment creation, skills development, and tools support as well as infrastructure development, which entails supporting communities with easy access to markets and connectivity, among others,” she said.
Mr Henry said his organisation decided to invest in Zimbabwe with the major contributing factor being the enabling investor-friendly policies established by the Second Republic.
“The policies fast-tracked the acquisition, establishment, and development of the project on record.
“Zimbabwe has a very well organised government and systematic development policies,” he said, adding that the Government was their biggest supporter in the development of the base metal project in Goromonzi.
For example, the Government granted the PLZ lithium project a national project status
“At the initial phase the project benefited from the Special Economic zone (SEZ) status and we enjoyed tax rebates during the implementation of the project.
“The company benefited from the rapid results approach launched by the Government and the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) which fast-tracked the acquisition, permitting, importation of equipment, installation and commissioning,” said Mr Henry.