Top miner Roach urges local beneficiation of lithium; says mineral has to benefit Zimbabweans 

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By Leopold Munhende, Chief Correspondent

TOP mining expert and London listed Premier African Minerals (PAM) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) George Roach has come out in support of government new thrust to have lithium processed locally.

Speaking a month after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a blanket ban on export of raw lithium, Roach, whose Zulu Lithium has interests in Fort Rixon said the mineral had to benefit Zimbabweans.

His comment on the matter was made public by government.

Zulu Lithium, one of the 20 EPOs granted by Zimbabwe’s mines ministry is set to play a huge role in the country’s exploitation of its reserves, the fifth largest globally.

“We have to make sure that we benefit the country, the fiscus, people and as we go forward we should be able to see that there is further processing of lithium bearing minerals; undertaken and done in this country,” said Roach.

“This has to be a target and I am quite sure that government and investors are all going to work with us to achieve it.”

Roach in the past publicly admitted Zimbabwe has capacity to beneficiate its lithium, which for long had been done in China.

The ban on raw exports however has seen reports of smuggling being raised, with a truck load linked with the Mnangagwas seized at Beit Bridge border post.

Artisanal mining of the mineral has been stopped in areas such as Bikita where Bikita Minerals sits on over 10.8 million tonnes of lithium ore.

The mineral’s worth jumped by 100% last year alone as electric car production rose. Analysts forsee 50% of all vehicles being electric by 2030, with Zimbabwe standing to make billions.

Government is eyeing a US$12 billion mining industry by end of this year.

“If we continue exporting raw lithium we will go nowhere. We want to see lithium batteries being developed in the country.

“We have done this in good faith for the growth of industry,” said mines deputy minister Polite Kambamura recently.