ZIMBABWE is poised to become a key player in the global transition to green energy, not only through lithium mining, but its beneficiation that can empower local communities and develop the nation as a whole, President Mnangagwa has said.
In yet another milestone in the country's quest to reach its target of a US$12 billion mining industry economy by 2023, President Mnangagwa yesterday officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony of the US$300 million Bikita Minerals Spodumene, a project that will result in increased production of lithium with a projected annual income of US$500 million for the next 10 years.
The game-changing project by Sinomine Resource Group at Bikita Minerals also presents far-reaching possibilities as lithium and its compounds have several industrial applications that include use in the manufacture of heat-resistant glass and ceramics, lithium grease lubricants, flux additives for iron, steel and aluminium production, air treatment, as well as lithium batteries, among others.
"I therefore, urge players in the lithium mining sub-sector to strategically position their business models informed by the fact that lithium demand will continue rising, particularly premised on the growing demand for electric vehicles. To date, this surge in demand has resulted in lithium prices skyrocketing over the past year thereby offering scope for increased investment in the sector," President Mnangagwa said.
"It is my expectation that the development of the lithium mining sector in Zimbabwe will lead to the growth of value chain linkages in the manufacturing industry. This should translate into expanded local production of renewable energy technologies, ceramics, glass, lubricants and polymers, among other products. The investment by Sinomine Resource Group should, thus, not only end in the production of spodumene, but should graduate to the production of battery grade lithium and ultimately lithium ion battery manufacturing entities".
This is in line with Government's minerals beneficiation thrust under which the Second Republic has given companies a minimum of two years to add value to minerals to ensure that Zimbabwe exports processed products and earns more from its rich mineral resources.
President Mnangagwa said after making profits, mining companies should implement corporate social responsibility programmes towards creating a lasting legacy in their host communities.
"Mining companies must be good corporate responsible citizens, and with Corporate Social Environmental, Social, and Governance aspects being critical components of their entities. Tangible socio-economic advantages and benefits should accrue to societies in which they operate. In undertaking their ventures, companies are challenged to listen to their host communities and address their concerns. Communities must on the other hand, equally appreciate that investors are indispensable partners to the realisation of sustainable development and a higher quality of life," he said.
On its part, the Second Republic, through the 'Zimbabwe is open for business policy', will continue improving the investment climate.
In the same vein, President Mnangagwa said it is Government's expectation that workers at mining firms are treated well.
"For greater harmony and unity of purpose, mechanisms should be developed to improve transparency and accountability so that aspects of the project are understood, while grievances are heard and addressed. The safety and treatment of employees is also a key component. Mining companies must strive to be model employers by treating and remunerating their workers appropriately," he said.
The investment will also bring development and create employment in the province, itself another pillar policy of the Second Republic of development that leaves no one and no place behind through Devolution.
The project is also another fulfillment of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) which places the private sector as a key enabler of economic development towards attainment of Vision 2030 to become an upper middle class economy.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Minister of Defence and War Veterans Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando and senior Government officials attended yesterday's groundbreaking ceremony in Bikita.
For more than 70 years, proceeds from the mine were hard to account for. However, under the Second Republic, every penny is being accounted for and will benefit the general public.
First to benefit will be the people of Bikita as part of the deliberate policy by Government to ensure locals benefit first from resources found in their areas.
The company is expected to employ more that 1000 people and the President stressed that Sinomine should make sure that it provides modern facilities, electricity, and also piped water for those around the mine.
As investor confidence in the country grows, several projects have been commissioned with idle mines being resuscitated, while capacity utilisation has also been ramped up all because the private sector is responding to the Second Republic's development trajectory.