Prospect stockpiles 30 000t since starting lithium exports Arcadia Lithium owned by Chinese company Huayou Cobalt is expected to play an important role as an example of the benefits of foreign direct investment

Oliver Kazunga Senior Business Reporter
PROSPECT Lithium Zimbabwe (PLZ), which recently commenced production at its Arcadia mine in Goromonzi, has stockpiled 30 000 tonnes of processed lithium while 10 000 tonnes have been exported since the first shipment towards the end of last month.

PLZ is targeting to produce between 30 000 and 40 000 tonnes of processed lithium per month at optimal production, has an installed capacity to process 4,5 million tonnes of ore annually from which 500 000 tonnes of lithium concentrate would be produced.

Lithium, which is one of the key elements used in production of electric vehicle batteries, is now one of the most sought after minerals globally in the push to transition to cleaner sources of energy.

In an interview after a tour of the mining project by journalists yesterday, PLZ public relations executive Mrs Rugare Dhobbie said after the commissioning of the plant, they were producing at 25 percent of capacity and going forward output is expected to rise markedly.

“Ever since that time (commissioning), we have been progressing very well.

“The commissioning stage is a stage whereby we are interlinking the machines; we really want how the machines work and want to see how they relate to each other and as we are doing that, each and every time, we are upgrading and also the figures in terms of tonnage produced have been on the increase,” she said.

“Ever since we started selling the product and commissioming the plant, we have exported about 10 000 tomnes to the market.

“So, we are happy and we think as we progress the commissioning stage, and as we get into full production things will be well projecting to sell 30 000 to 40 000 tonnes of the product per month.”

At the moment, PLZ ,which is the local subsidiary of China’s Huayou International Mining, is producing petallite and spodumene.

The lithium project follows the conclusion of a US$377,8 million upfront cash payment to acquire the asset last year under a share sale agreement from Prospect Resources by Huayou International Mining for 87 percent stake in PLZ.

Briefing journalists before the tour of the lithium mine, Mrs Dhobbie said her organsiation, which aims to be the world’s largest lithium producer, has started production in line with the Government’s thrust to attain a US$12 billion mining economy by the end of this year.

“In all this, we want to contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product and the Government’s US$12 billion and we (PLZ) also want to be the largest lithium producer in the world,” she said.

In 2019, the Second Republic launched the US$12 billion mining industry roadmap to be attained by the end of this year with lithium one of the strategic minerals to the achievement of the envisaged milestone expected to contribute US$500 million by the fall of 2023.

Gold, which is the major foreign currency earner is anticipated to contribute US$4 billion, platinum (US$3 billion), diamonds (US$1 billion) while chrome, ferro-chrome and carbon steel will generate US$1 billion, and coal (US$1 billion).

Other minerals are expected to generate US$1,5 billion.

Before the launch of the mining industry roadmap in 2018, mining exports generated US$2,7 billion in and the figure has since registered phenomenal growth to reach US$5,3 billion by 2021.

The US$12 billion mining industry target is anchored on increasing production through the re-opening of closed mines, expansion programmes and new investments in the mining sector.

At present, the mining sector accounts for 73 percent of foreign direct investment, 83 percent of exports, 19 percent of Government revenues, 2 percent of formal employment and 11 percent of individual incomes.

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