Zim readies for lithium battery production

Zim readies for lithium battery production
Published: 07 June 2018
ZIMBABWE Lithium Company is negotiating with RioZim to upgrade the Empress Nickel Refinery (ENR) and position it for battery grade lithium production.

Lithium has become a much-sought after mineral not only in Zimbabwe, but across the globe as the automotive industry moves towards electric cars, which, among other things, use lithium batteries.

Zimbabwe has potential to supply 20 percent of the world's lithium. In a recent interview, Zimbabwe Lithium managing director Mr John McTaggart could not ascertain how much was required to upgrade the nickel refinery at Empress as due diligence on the project was yet to be carried out.

"It is very difficult to tell you how much it's going to cost, what has been agreed between the parties concerned is that Zimbabwe Lithium will spend a certain amount of money getting its international consultancy to do a due diligence on the refinery.

"I think you are aware that it's a nickel copper refinery and it's not designed to produce lithium carbonate," he said.

"But there are a number commonalities in the refinery that we could use. As you are aware the refinery is on care and maintenance at the moment.

"The discussions with RioZim will be centred on doing some due diligence by bringing in some international consultancy that has a lot of experience in lithium carbonate production."

The due diligence is expected to commence sometime this month and thereafter between three and four months the feasibility and cost of upgrading the refinery would be determined. In a financial statement for the year ended December 31, 2017, RioZim said it was exploring various ways to upgrade the ENR as the plant was a strategic asset with potential to contribute immensely to the country's economy.

It is hoped that upgrading of the ENR will go a long way in beneficiating lithium concentrates on the back of huge investor appetite to exploit the mineral in Zimbabwe. At present, Zimbabwe is one of the top 10 lithium producers but currently produces only a fraction of the worldwide total. Due to global demand for lithium, Zimbabwe is focused on increasing production of the mineral with new projects coming on board.

Such investments include the Arcadia Lithium by Prospect Resources, Zulu Lithium at Fort Rixon by Pan African Minerals and a joint venture between the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and Jimbata at Kamativi.

- chronicle
Tags: Lithium,


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