Huayou Cobalt to inject US$300m into lithium project

Huayou deployed executives at Arcadia Mine last month, as the firm prepares the groundwork for full-scale exploitation at one of the world’s biggest lithiumendowments.

BY SHAME MAKOSHORI SHANGHAI Stock Exchange-listed global battery maker, Huayou Cobalt will pour US$300 million into Arcadia Lithium Mine and construct a processing plant to produce 400 000 tonnes of lithium concentrate per annum.

Huayou deployed executives at Arcadia Mine last month, as the firm prepares the groundwork for full-scale exploitation at one of the world’s biggest lithium endowments.

“We intend to develop the project rapidly over the next year and invest US$300 million to develop the mine and construct a process plant with a capacity to treat around 4,5 million tonnes of ore and produce 400 000 tonnes of lithium  concentrate per annum,” Huayou said in a statement obtained by NewsDay Business yesterday.

The firm has paid the US$378 million to take majority control of the operation, which is taking shape at Goromonzi, about 60km east of Harare.

Funds were transferred to Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe in March, according to corporate data.

“This will be a shot in the arm for Zimbabwe’s economy, and contribute towards achieving the National Development Strategy 1 set out by the government. At least 600 locals are to be employed during the construction phase with figures rising to between 700 and 900 when production goes into full gear. The majority of these will go to local people,” read the executive statement, which was availed ahead of a tour of Arcadia Mine later yesterday.

Huayou said it was “super excited” to be in Zimbabwe where it had clinched the “biggest” lithium deal, from where it will champion the transformation of the southern African country into one of the key factors in global electric vehicle production.

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

The statement said Huayou began research into Arcadia Mine in July last year, after which a feasibility study was initiated.

In August, Prospect Resources, which controlled the resource, opened a structured bidding process for partnerships in developing the asset, and a deal was inked in December, after which a 14-member Huayou team arrived in April “to facilitate transaction of the deal”.

The team included Haijun Zhu, who is now general manager at the operation.

Prospect managing director and CEO Sam Hosack recently pointed out that Huayou’s pedigree as a leading electric vehicle battery precursor producer opens up opportunities in Zimbabwe and supports its strategy both in Zimbabwe and the broader sub-Saharan region.

“The transaction, being the culmination of years of effort of progressing and developing the Arcadia Project to this point is a testament to the skills and expertise of the Prospect team, who are now firmly focused on the path ahead, to build the next iteration of Prospect, a developer of lithium and battery and electrification metals projects,” he said.

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