Somali Magazine – The global demand for lithium has earned Zimbabwe $209 million in the first nine months of 2023.
“The revenue generated from the export of lithium grew from $1.8 million in 2018 to $70 million in 2022. By September 2023, a total of $209 million had been realized from lithium exports,” Mines Minister Zhemu Soda said at a mining conference in Bulawayo, southwest Zimbabwe on Wednesday.
The Southern African nation plans to tap into the high demand for the mineral, which is key for renewable energy storage, which will help revive its ailing economy.
Lithium is set to become Zimbabwe’s third biggest mineral export after gold and platinum group metals, which registered $2.46 billion and $2.27 billion in export receipts last year.
At the same time, the Zimbabwean government awarded Chinese companies licenses in the third quarter that could see $2.79 billion of investment flow into the country, mostly in mining and energy as the government pushes to develop some of Africa’s biggest lithium deposits and end power outages.
The planned investment, a tenfold increase on the $271 million pledged in the same period last year, dwarfs that of its closest rival, the United Arab Emirates, which eon licenses to invest $498.5 million. The total value of investment licenses awarded was $3.41 billion.
Chinese applications “were the most by number and investment value with mining being their most preferred sector followed by the manufacturing sector,” the Zimbabwe Development Agency, the state-owned unit tasked with securing investment, said in a report on Wednesday.
China accounted for more than two thirds of the 180 applications.
Chinese companies have been buying lithium mines, which supply a key component for the batteries used in electric vehicles.
They are also involved in revamping and building power plants in the country. Of the planned investment $2.8 billion is slated for energy projects and $411 million for mining.
One China-backed project is a $2.3 billion planned energy and mining complex that will process minerals in Maping, while another is a 500-megawatt solar energy project.