Story by Mercy Bofu
THE construction of the country’s two biggest lithium beneficiation plants by Sinomine Resource Group at Bikita Minerals in Masvingo is almost complete with the project set to ramp up lithium production and extend the mine’s lifespan.
The two, Petalite and Spodumene plants worth US$200 million currently under construction at Bikita Minerals are expected to start running by July this year.
Speaking to ZBC News on the sidelines of a tour by the Masvingo Provincial Joint Operations Command this Wednesday, Bikita Minerals Mine Manager Mr Mwanza highlighted that they will be able to produce more than 30 thousand tonnes of lithium upon completion of the plants.
The production will scale up from the 10 thousand tonnes they are currently producing.
“We have two rocks that are being processed at Bikita that is the petalite and the spodumene. So we are constructing two plants here to process these rocks and the two are intended to run this year. As far as completion is concerned, we are sitting at 80 percent and a lot of work is currently going on,” he noted.
The mining company is also working on establishing a smelter plant to enhance the beneficiation of their mineral Resource.
“Going forward we are also working on establishing a smelter plant, feasibility studies are ongoing, establishment plan is on cards and we expect to start mid-this year,” noted Bikita Minerals Production Manager, Mr Mike Mushava.
The Joint Operations Command was briefed on security issues threatening production and promised to take up the matter.
“We acknowledge the importance of this mine in ensuring the economic development of this country. As JOC we must see that the security in the province is maintained,” highlighted Masvingo Provincial Joint Operations Command Representative, Brigadier General Ephias Mahachi.
Since the groundbreaking ceremony by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last year, Sinomine Resources Group has managed to employ nearly 1000 people from 350.
Bikita Minerals is ranked among the biggest global suppliers of lithium, petalite and tantalite and is number one in Africa.
Lithium is increasingly becoming a key mineral worldwide with its demand surging for use in the ceramics industry, mobile phone manufacturing and the making of automotive batteries.