Story by Owen Mandovha
THE ban on the exportation of raw lithium ore has been described as a bold step aimed at ensuring that Zimbabwe benefits sufficiently from its much sought after commodity.
Mines and Mining Development Minister, Honourable Winston Chitando spoke to ZBC News this Tuesday to break down Statutory Instrument 213 of 2022 which was gazetted on Monday.
Honourable Chitando says the latest stance resonates with the broad mining policy framework of value addition as underpinned by the National Development Strategy One.
“Unless one has written permission and giving the special circumstances under which they need to export raw ore, government shall not allow any exportation of unprocessed lithium ore.
“Remember that we have, as a country a mineral beneficiation policy across all mineral sub sectors which emphasises the need to value add our minerals. In doing so it means that they fetch higher prices and create other downward and upstream benefits. This SI is simply in pursuit of that policy framework as enshrined in the NDS 1 economic blueprint,” he said.
Minister Chitando added that new mines which are yet to invest in processing plants will have to utilise those of their counterparts.
“We have other lithium mines such as Arcadia which are building processing plants and by the second quarter of next year it will be operating. So those new mines which have no capacity can enter into arrangements with the likes of Arcadia and Bikita Minerals so that they can have their ore processed.”
Zimbabwe is one of the five countries with lithium deposits globally, with others being Chile, Australia, China and Namibia.
Currently, lithium is the most sought after mineral in the world, with its price having surged by over 1 200 percent since 2020 in the wake of the boom in production of electric vehicles which use lithium batteries.
Just last week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa commissioned the Sabi Star Lithium Mine and Processing plant in Buhera where he underscored Zimbabwe’s preparedness to benefit from this natural endowment.