"Zimbabwe's Ban On Exportation Of Raw Lithium Could Trigger Price Hike Globally"

1 year agoTue, 03 Jan 2023 18:45:49 GMT
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"Zimbabwe's Ban On Exportation Of Raw Lithium Could Trigger Price Hike Globally"

Zimbabwe’s ban on the exportation of raw lithium could trigger a rise in the price of lithium and by-products globally, miners have said.

The southern African nation is the world’s sixth-largest producer and the largest lithium miner on the continent.

Its decision to ban raw lithium exports aims to make it a bigger player in EV battery production and support its clean energy transition.

Chris Berry, president of commodities advisory firm House Mountain Partners in New York said Chinese firms that had made recent lithium investments in Zimbabwe would need to build processing facilities there so they can export higher-value lithium chemicals.

Berry is cited by The Herald, a state-run newspaper, as saying building the facilities would be at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. He said: 

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There is a great deal of capital required to build chemical conversion facilities outside of China, not to mention the two or three-year lead time necessary to actually complete construction and commissioning.

He added if more countries followed suit, it could have wider implications, such as higher prices for lithium and other raw materials.

Zimbabwe produced 1 200 tonnes of lithium in 2021, making it the sixth-largest miner globally behind Brazil (1 900 tonnes), Argentina (6 200 tonnes), China (14 000 tonnes), Chile (26 000 tonnes) and Australia (55 000 tonnes).

Sinomine Resource Group recently acquired “the world’s largest-known lithium deposit in Zimbabwe”, the Bikita mine, and has invested more than $200m into expanding it.

The British Geological Survey published a report in 2021 identifying multiple new potential lithium sources in Zimbabwe, which were either proven to be feasible for development or already in development. 

State media reported that Chinese companies Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, Sinomine Resource Group and Chengxin Lithium Group had acquired lithium projects worth a combined US$679m and begun progress on processing facilities, exempting them from the ban.

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