By Alois Vinga
CHINA’s Sinomine Resource Group has resumed operations following almost a week’s closure after a local mining watchdog raised alarm over alleged looting of lithium and other labour related issues.
The ‘white gold’ miner suspended operations at its Bikita Minerals plant in Masvingo to address ‘concerns raised by authorities’ a few weeks after claims of looting were raised by the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) Director Farai Maguwu who alleged that 42 trucks of lithium were leaving the mine on a daily basis.
Bikita Minerals, which employs 860 workers holds 11 million tonnes of lithium, the world’s largest-known deposit of the mineral.
In an update, Wednesday the miner said operations had resumed after addressing issues related to labour management and other regulatory concerns following special inspections and rectifications completed by the government.
- Bikita Minerals suspends operations weeks after claims of lithium looting; mine bought by Chinese firm in Us$180m deal
Lithium is widely seen as the country’s get out of jail card if properly managed on the back of rising demand of the commodity on the global market, which in fact, is expected to see the prices increasing further.
Located in the Bikita hills of Masvingo province in Zimbabwe, the mine was recently acquired by Sinomine for US$180m.
The mine has been in operation since 1950.
Although the Bikita mine predominantly produces petalite, a lithium mineral that is used in the ceramic and glass industries, the new investment of US$200 million will allow the mine to produce spodumene – a key battery mineral.
The investment is also expected to position the country as a major player in the battery mineral supply chain while bringing value growth to the manufacturing industry chain.