GOVERNMENT has called on lithium players to work together to establish value-addition plants for lithium concentrates.
Currently there are around eight different lithium exploration and mining projects at different development stages.
These include Arcadia Lithium Mine, Sabi Star Lithium, Zulu Lithium Project, Step Aside Lithium Project, Mirrorplex Lithium Project, Kamativi Lithium Project, Mutoko Lithium Private Limited and Bikita Lithium Minerals.
Addressing delegates at the lithium symposium which kicked off yesterday at the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) annual conference in Victoria Falls, Mines minister Winston Chitando threatened to impose levies on those who will fail to value add.
“It is very important that the lithium players in this country work together. You need to work more closely than you are today,” he said.
“With lithium, where are we? I was talking and making reference to lithium concentrates. Obviously, the intention of the government is to see you moving the whole value chain. It is important for us to work together with industry to ensure that industry achieves its own goal and also as government, we achieve our goal for the value addition.”
Chitando added: “As things stand, we do have, to some extent, I could say plans by individual companies to establish value addition of lithium concentrates. As government, once we have an entity which can value add beyond the lithium concentrates and goes a stage higher, two things will happen: the extreme case will be to ban exports of the lithium concentrates which won’t happen but we will impose a levy.”
Zimbabwe is the world’s sixth largest lithium producer with its output rising steadily in recent years from 1 200 tonnes produced in 2021.
Government believes Zimbabwe has the potential to account for 20% of global lithium output when all known reserves are exploited.
“So, it is important that the lithium players get together. Those who are establishing plants for value addition, the next stage is work together. If you don’t work together to establish a timeline, we will establish it for you,” he warned.
“So, we would want a clear and consolidated plan. Yes, we do have plans from individual companies but there are some who are silent and what will happen is if an entity comes and says they will do it by 2026, that becomes our milestone and by 2026 those who are not going beyond lithium concentrate stage we will put in a levy.
“So, it’s very important that you work together. We do have plans which have been submitted by some of the investors who would want to go the whole way to the value chain. If you continue to work in silos it’s fine, but at the end of the day we will come up with a position which is not favourable to some players.”
Ecobank South Africa country head Clement Chamboko weighed in saying: “Let’s break the regional silos. We hear of our individual deficits. Together we can leverage each other’s resources.”