The International Energy Agency (IEA) has projected that the manufacturers of clean energy technologies will require significantly more lithium, graphite, nickel, and cobalt in 2040 than they do today and Zimbabwe, with its vast reserves of the key minerals, is poised to reap substantial benefits from this increased demand.
The surge in demand is driven by the rapid growth of the renewable energy sector, particularly the production of electric vehicles (EVs) and battery storage systems.
Zimbabwe is estimated to hold the sixth-largest lithium reserves in the world. As demand for lithium escalates, Zimbabwe could emerge as a major supplier of this critical resource with estimate suggesting that the country could supply 25 percent of global lithium requirements in the coming years.
The development of Zimbabwe’s lithium industry has the potential to generate significant economic benefits for the country.
Demand for so-called green minerals, including copper, graphite and rare earth minerals, is set to surge as wealthier nations seek to decarbonise their economies by, in part, shifting to a clean energy system, said the International Energy Agency.
The lithium sector has been the largest recipient of the mining investments this year. For instance, Bikita Minerals invested over US$300 million in exploration work and expansion of their Bikita Lithium Mine operations.
The company has commissioned a dual lithium processing plant, including a spodumene project, a flotation separation plant and a new smelting plant.
These investments are expected to boost production to 300 000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate and 480 000 tonnes of petalite.
Acadia Lithium Mine is another major contributor to Zimbabwe’s lithium boom. The company has spent over US$300 million in capex over the past three years and has commissioned its plant–commencing production in the first quarter of 2023.
At full capacity, the company will produce 400 000 tonnes per annum of lithium concentrate.
Sabi Star Lithium project has also made significant strides, commissioning its concentrator in August 2023. The concentrator boasts an ore processing capacity of one million tonne per annum with a lithium concentrate output of 300 000 tones per annum.