Munyaradzi Musiiwa, Midlands Correspondent
KAMATIVI Mine in Matabeleland North is sitting on $ 1,9 billion worth of lithium on its dumps, which the Government is looking forward to start exploiting in the first quarter of next year.
In an interview in Gweru last week, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said the new investor JIMBATA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zimbabwe Lithium Company, was already on the ground to work on the operationalisation of the project.
Minister Chitando said the Government is still to finalise how to exploit the mineral resources in-situ as it is engaged in discussions with the investor Beijing Pinchang, which has failed to perform up to expectations.
“In Kamativi there are two aspects, we have got the dump and then we have in-situ resources. There are two separate agreements on Kamativi. In terms of the dumps, that is the one we signed which has $ 1,9 billion worth of lithium resources.
The mobilisation is on the ground, there are people already there and if all goes well we are expecting to start extracting that lithium in the first quarter of next year.
“In terms of the underground, unfortunately the investor whom we signed with some two, three years back has not quite performed and there are discussions taking place with Government, ZMDC and the investor to see what the way forward is.
The discussions are sensitive and I am not at liberty to discuss them in detail. However, the Government would want to see every ZMDC asset operating profitably,” he said.
Minister Chitando said Kamativi is one of the anchor projects that the Government is prioritising to ensure that the country becomes a net exporter on lithium.
“We have four lithium projects that are in the pipeline which include Kamativi, formerly Kamativi Tin Mine. We also have lithium deposits in the surrounding areas of Kamativi. We also have Acadia Lithium project in Acturus and we also have deposits just outside Bulawayo. We have also managed to find and move as a country to be able to value add our lithium concentrate to produce lithium carbonate. We have a pilot plant in Kwekwe which is already running which is producing 99,5 percent lithium carbonate. This makes Zimbabwe well poised to become a major player in lithium production in the world.
The company is called Prospects and is a sister company to Acadia Lithium,” he said.
Minister Chitando said the Government had unveiled a $10 million loan facility for gold producers to enhance production and surpass the gold output target which is about 30 tonnes. He also said the Government recently unveiled a $50 million loan facility for chrome producers.
“There have been delays in terms of the $100 million facility. But what we have done in the interim, we have a $50 million facility which we signed two weeks ago and that one is specific to chrome. There is another $ 10 million loan facility which will be signed around 15 July which is separate from other initiatives that I have been talking about. This one will be unveiled by Government and is specifically for gold producers. So that $100 million which was announced earlier has been delayed but we have introduced other stop gap measures to ensure that artisanal miners contribute to mineral economic activity.
It has been delayed because of the way it was structured initially,” he said.