Story by Josephine Mugiyo
AS the country moves to grow the mining sector, a new entry in the lithium sub-sector, Zulu Lithium Mine in Fort Rixon, Insiza area of Matabeleland South Province has set a target to put its first four thousand tonnes on the market by the end of the first quarter.
With the demand of lithium increasing across the globe, Zimbabwe is poised to consolidate its gains from the key mineral as more entities come on board.
A visit to the mining site by ZBC News revealed massive progress with the dam set to provide water at the facility also nearing completion.
The multi-million United States dollar plant will produce high-grade lithium used in the production of batteries as revealed by the mine manager, Mr Jabulani Chirasha.
‘‘We started exploration on March 21 after we got an EPL from the government. We are 50 percent complete with the plant processes. We still have a lot of trucks that are coming in. We are targeting that by the 14th we will do a hot commissioning of the plant and see if everything is in order.
“We have created a 24-hour working environment. The mine is the one behind you and in a week or two we will start exposing the ore. The spodumene we have here is the battery grade, the nature of the ore is of high value,’’ he said.
Mr Chirasha is upbeat about the mining project and believes it will be among the biggest lithium projects in the country focusing more on beneficiation before export.
‘‘For us as a nation, this will be one of the big lithium mines. Anyone who wants to sell lithium ore in its roar form is an opportunist.’’
The new mines dotted around the country have also come with employment opportunities for locals.
It was no surprise as the ZBC News crew arrived at the mine to hordes of locals gathered at the site after word reached them that the mine was recruiting more workers.
As they speak of their hopes of getting employed, they are also eager to see the mine contributing to community development.
A villager told the ZBC News, ‘‘We are saying the mine authorities should make sure our area is developed.’’
Another villager said, ‘‘I got here at 5:00 am and I’m hoping to get a job. I also hope more of our children will get employed in the future.’’
For those already employed, the benefits are already being felt.
One employee said, ‘‘I am grateful to have this opportunity to be working at this mine.’’
The authorities at mine say they expect to double the size of the current plant in the next three years.
Mining is among the key sectors that are contributing to Zimbabwe’s economic growth with the industry hoping to be worth US$12 billion by the end of the year.