Zimbabwe has not banned all lithium exports, the ban only applies to the export of lithium ore, the rocks that carry the mineral reported newZWire.
Following the promulgation of Statutory Base Minerals Export Control (Unbeneficiated Lithium Bearing Ores) Order, 2022, in December, influential US journalist Ben Norton tweeted:
Zimbabwe has banned all lithium exports. The government said it was losing $1.7 billion from exporting it as a raw mineral and not processing it into batteries in-country.
Instead of exporting raw materials, Zimbabwe hopes to develop its own industry.
A headline in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post said: “Export ban means Chinese firms will have to build plants in Zimbabwe to process lithium.”
However, Zimbabwe has not refused to sell the in-demand metal to powerful foreign companies and mining companies don’t necessarily have to build new plants.
The ban does not apply to the export of lithium concentrates, which all the major lithium miners in the country already plan to produce but only applies to the export of lithium ore.
Mines and Mining Development Ministry Secretary Pfungwa Kunaka told newZWire that the exportation of concentrates is not banned. He added:
We are encouraging and promoting value addition and beneficiation.
George Roach, whose company Premier African Minerals, one of the companies currently developing lithium mines in the country, said:
As I understand this, the banned commodity is un-beneficiated ore. We do not plan to export ore.
We plan to mine ore and then extract spodumene from the ore and export the spodumene. I do not believe this affects us at this time.
Speaking personally, I support the regulation. Premier supports the further beneficiation of spodumene from a concentrate in-country and is actively engaged in planning such further beneficiation for spodumene produced at Zulu.
The General Manager of another major lithium company, who declined to be named, told newZWire:
We have no problem with that law. In fact, it protects formal operations where it stops illegal miners from potentially damaging assets to sell ore.
Our operation is currently building processing capacity and will have no problem complying with Zimbabwean laws.
Meanwhile, Huayou Cobalt, Sabi Star, Bikita Minerals and Premier are currently building lithium processing plants, with completion mostly expected later this year. | newZWire