GOVERNMENT expects the defunct Kamativi Tin Mine to be reopened as a lithium multi-element ore body operation by 2023.

The Matabeleland North-based mine, which is wholly-owned by the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), closed in 1994 due to the depressed international prices of tin. Speaking in an interview during a tour of Blanket Gold Mine in Gwanda last week, Mines and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando, said the Government has a clear roadmap to facilitate Kamativi reopening in the next two years.

“It’s a mine which had closed down for a long time. Let me be very clear, Kamativi was a tin mine and it’s not reopening as a tin mine, it’s reopening as a lithium multi-element ore body mine,” he said.

“Therefore, there has to be reconfiguration, actually it’s a new plant being constructed.”

The lithium mining project in Kamativi was being implemented by the Zimbabwe Lithium Company and is expected to unlock up to US$1,4 billion investment.

Lithium is one of the minerals expected to contribute to the achievement of the US$12 billion mining economy by 2023.

Lithium is expected to contribute US$500 million and the figure is expected to rapidly increase beyond 2023 as more lithium mines come on board and existing mines increase production.

Lithium is expected from Kamativi, Sandawana, Bikita Minerals and Zulu lithium.

Zimbabwe is among major lithium producers that may draw significant benefits from firm global prices and high demand for the precious mineral due to expected imminent supply deficit.

The country is the world’s fifth largest producer of lithium but only Bikita Minerals is producing at the moment. There are vast deposits of the mineral widely used in the automotive and glass industries.

Lithium-ion batteries experienced a compound annual growth rate of 25 percent from 2015-18, driven primarily by increase in electric vehicles (EVs).

In 2019, global lithium demand had reportedly jumped to 49 000 tonnes, with 60 percent of that being for use in battery-related products.

Experts have hinted that with around a billion light-duty vehicles on the roads and the number set to rise to three billion by 2050, electrifying the global fleet could put a huge squeeze on lithium supply. 

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