Zimbabwe state miner says lithium assets attract investors

Site of the Freda Rebecca gold mine. Credit: Kuvimba

Zimbabwe’s state-owned miner Kuvimba Resources Ltd. said its lithium assets are attracting potential investors from both China and other countries.

Kuvimba has identified a lithium ore resource of 38 million tons at Sandawana, the site of a mothballed emerald mine formerly run by Rio Tinto. That’s sparked investor interest, acting chief executive officer Trevor Barnard said in an interview from his office in the capital, Harare.

“It’s not just China, but from other nationalities as well,” Barnard said. “We are working on a structure that can accommodate a number of possible investors and those investors will be able to take a portion of the resource that is available at Sandawana and develop that.”

Kuvimba is seeking to attract investors after lithium prices steadied following a boom-to-bust period that left an array of stalled projects, scrapped deals and production cuts. The market for the battery metal is still grappling with inflated inventories, while prices are down about 80% from a peak in 2022.

Mining veteran Barnard, who previously held roles at Anglo American Plc, met with Cluff Resources Ltd. last month, but said discussions were also taking place with a number of other potential investors.

Kuvimba, 65% owned by the state, is undertaking further exploration, with the CEO expecting to get close to a lithium resource of 100 million tons. Zimbabwe has some of the world’s largest hard rock lithium reserves, which have attracted mainly Chinese investors.

The company plans to spend as much as $300 million developing the first phase of a lithium mine, plus a processing plant, Barnard said.

Gold mining remains the “crown jewel” of Kuvimba’s business, but the firm also plans to revive the construction of the Darwendale platinum project, after Russian investors exited in 2022, the CEO said.

(By Godfrey Marawanyika)


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