Lithium Mining Resilience: Zimbabwe Advocates New Capacity Planning Despite Price Decline

Lithium Mining Resilience: Zimbabwe Advocates New Capacity

Lithium Mining Resilience: Zimbabwe Advocates New Capacity

In Harare on February 23, a senior government official stated that Zimbabwe is urging miners to submit plans for producing battery-grade lithium by the end of March, despite a significant global decline in lithium prices. As Africa’s top lithium producer, Zimbabwe set a deadline in November for miners to submit plans for local battery-grade lithium production, aiming to capitalize on the global shift towards cleaner energy solutions, particularly in electric vehicles.

Chinese miners currently dominate Zimbabwe’s lithium sector, producing concentrates that are then shipped to China for further processing. However, the oversupply of lithium in the global market over the past year has led to a more than 80% drop in prices. In response, several mining firms worldwide have been forced to cut jobs and reduce production. In January, the world’s leading lithium miner, Albemarle, announced layoffs and expansion halts, while Piedmont Lithium laid off 27% of its workforce on February 6.

Despite the challenges posed by the current low price levels, Deputy Mines Minister Polite Kambamura emphasized that the government still expects miners to present concrete plans for building processing capacity by March. Kambamura clarified that the government is committed to the beneficiation process, urging all lithium players to come forward with their plans. While the government did not mandate the immediate establishment of processing plants by March, it seeks proactive steps toward local lithium beneficiation.

One of the prominent miners in Zimbabwe, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, expressed a cautious approach, stating that it would explore local production of battery-grade lithium only under favorable construction and economic conditions. Huayou cited the absence of essential resources in Zimbabwe, including reliable renewable energy, natural gas, and sulfuric acid, necessary for battery-grade lithium production.

Zimbabwe’s push for lithium beneficiation amid global market challenges reflects the nation’s strategic vision to tap into the growing demand for lithium-driven technologies. The government’s encouragement for miners to outline their plans demonstrates a commitment to navigating challenges and fostering local value addition in the lithium supply chain, aligning with global trends toward sustainable energy solutions.

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