Bikita Minerals to beneficiate lithium

Published: 22 November 2018
Zimbabwe's sole lithium producer, Bikita Minerals, has set its sights on beneficiating the mineral in a development that is expected to rake in more foreign currency for the country in line with Government's thrust for value addition.

The firm, which is the third largest producer of lithium in the world, early this year embarked on a $4 million expansion drive to ramp up output to 80 000 tonnes of petalite up from 40 000 tonnes last year.

Petalite is an ore that contains about 4,5 percent of lithium and is being exported raw as Zimbabwe does not have capacity to beneficiate petalite into lithium. Speaking after a recent familiarisation tour of the mine, Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs Ezra Chadzamira expressed satisfaction with Bikita Minerals' plans.

The mine management told Minister Chadzamira of plans to join forces with other fledgling lithium producers in the country to set up a refinery.

"We are happy that Bikita Minerals is taking the issue of value addition very seriously and management told us about plans to set up a refinery with other emerging local producers of lithium and we hope this development will not only benefit our country in terms of forex receipts, but also have positive economic spin-offs for Masvingo province," he said.

"At the moment they are exporting concentrates that contain up to 10 different minerals which if a refinery is built locally would accrue immense benefits to the country's economy." Minister Chadzamira said Bikita Minerals had potential to greatly contribute to the growth of the province.

He said Masvingo wanted to grow its Gross Domestic Product in line with President Mnangagwa's vision of transforming Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income economy by 2030.

"We are happy that so far our engagement with Bikita Minerals management have been very fruitful and our emphasis has been for the mine to also locally source some of the products used for day-to-day operations as part of thrust to economically empower the people of Masvingo," said Chadzamira.

He said the lithium producer has more scope to expand its social responsibility programmes targeting the Bikita community and the province at large. He said Bikita district as a whole and communities around the mine had to contend with poor roads and other infrastructural challenges which the lithium producer can help upgrade.

"We will also continue to engage Bikita Minerals so that they help in the drilling of more boreholes to ease biting water shortages in Marozva communal lands where the mine is domiciled," Minister Chadzamira.
- the herald
Tags: Bikita, Lithium,


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