President Emmerson Mnangagwa has commissioned a US$300m spodumene lithium project by SinoMine a Chinese company with anticipation of changing the fortunes of Bikita Minerals which has one of the largest deposits of the mineral in the world.
The Midweek Watch’s Bridget Mutukwa reports that the commissioning was done on Friday last week at a ceremony held at Bikita Minerals’ Lithium Stadium and was attended by thousands of people including Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.
SinoMine, a Chinese mining company bought Bikita Minerals from shareholders including Dzikamai Mavhaire and they are pouring over US$200 million into building a new processing plant while expanding operations.
Bikita Minerals is Zimbabwe’s oldest miner of lithium-bearing minerals having operated in Masvingo Province for over 70 years, but has only been producing petalite, which is used mainly in the glass and ceramics industry.
SinoMine now plans to build a plant to process spodumene lithium, a concentrate used by battery and solar manufacturers as the country moves towards the use of clean energy and securing a strategic position in the global lithium market. The manufacture of electric vehicles has increased demand for lithium which is essential for the production of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.
SinoMine is set to have a 110km 132kVA power line from Mashava substation to Bikita to feed its operations at the mine as part of its long-term investment.
SinoMine said they are working in line with the Government’s call for the value addition of all minerals mined in the country so that the nation benefits more from its natural resources. SinoMine said:
After the completion of the expansion and construction, we will our annual turnover will be US$500m, which also means that the Government will get more tax from the company.
Apart from the huge investments the company promised to engage in social responsibility projects for the Bikita community so that they also benefit from the natural resources.
President Mnangagwa pledged to visit the mine in the next two years to monitor production progress as well as to check on promised community projects.