Story by Owen Mandovha
THE government has responded to calls by lithium miners to lift the ban on raw ore exports, saying it is the only way the country can benefit from our natural resource.
The law to ban the export of raw ore precipitated the stockpiling of hundreds of thousands of lithium ore by mining firms that have no processing plants, with many of them now pleading with the government to relax the policy and allow them to export raw ore.
The government has weighed in saying the policy measure is very feasible and there is no need for a review.
“A miner does not need to invest millions of dollars to set up a processing plant because as we speak, there are small plants that are operational and only require a couple of millions of dollars to set up. So it is feasible to proceed with our policy to ban raw exports of ore,” noted the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Honourable Winston Chitando.
Minister Chitando further illustrated how local value addition will increase the country’s foreign earnings.
“Raw ore fetches about US$300 to US$600 per tonne, if you process to lithium concentrates, they go for around US$7000 per tonne, if you further process the concentrates they will go for over US$70 000 per tonne,” said Honorable Chitando.
“One can clearly see why this policy measure is the only way to go in terms of increasing foreign currency inflows into the country and benefit from our lithium resources,” he added.
The country is building up its lithium processing capacity as Arcadia Lithium Mine made its first shipment of lithium concentrates after completing its processing plant, while Sabi Lithium Mine in Buhera is processing and is now nearing completion.