Prospect eyes 480K tonnes of lithium exports per annum

The Chinese firm acquired the Prospect asset in 2021 for about US$378 million.

PROSPECT Lithium Zimbabwe, which is controlled by Shanghai Stock Exchange-listed global battery maker, Huayou Cobalt, has said it plans to export over 480 000 tonnes of lithium per year when it starts operating at full capacity.

The Chinese firm acquired the Prospect asset in 2021 for about US$378 million.

Lithium is a key raw material in the production of batteries for electric vehicles.

Prospect spokesperson Rugare Dobbie told journalists during a tour of the mine in Goromonzi on Tuesday that to date, the company has produced 30 000 tonnes of lithium and exported 10 000 tonnes.

"Ever since we started selling products and ever since we started commissioning the plant, we have produced about 30 000 tonnes of products and we have exported about 10 000 tonnes to the market," she said.

"We think as we progress to the commissioning stage as we get into full production, things will be well because we are projecting to say each and every month we have to sell about 30 000-40 000 tonnes of the product.  We have to export that and hope it will be good.”

Dobbie said capacity utilisation had increased from 25% since the start of the project.

She said currently they were producing petalite and spodumene while plans were underway to introduce another unit which caters for tantalite production.

"On the lithium products, the products that we are currently getting here are petalite and spodumene and there is another product which is tantalite. We don’t have a production unit for tantalite.  Research has been done by specialists on the ground to see how best we can put that tantalite unit to begin production.”

Chinese miners have recently been targeting Zimbabwe’s lithium mines, which hold a great deal of promise given that most of the lithium reserves in the country are still unexplored.  It is believed that China owns the largest reserves in Africa.

Rising demand for environmentally friendly transport is boosting sales of electric vehicles (EVs) and the lithium-ion batteries that power them.

According to a recent report from Research and Markets, the firm’s analysts said the market revenue of lithium-ion batteries would reach US$165,8 billion by 2030, with a 15,3% compound annual growth rate.

Apart from EVs, another key reason for the rising usage of lithium-ion batteries is the growth in renewable energy production, the firm said in the report. Lithium-ion batteries are now used in everything from handheld devices to grid storage.

Follow Freeman on Twitter @freemanmakopa

Related Topics