UN Agency names Zim in top 5 global lithium producers
Harare (New Ziana) – Zimbabwe has been named among the five countries which accounted for about 97 percent of global lithium production in 2018, latest data shows.
The other top producers are Australia, Chile, Argentina and China.
In its latest report titled Commodities at a Glance-Special issue on strategic battery raw materials, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said Australia produced 60 percent of lithium concentrate in the form of spodumene (rock).
Chile and Argentina produced 19 percent and 7.3 percent from brine respectively, China produced 9.4 percent from rock and brine while Zimbabwe produced 1.9 percent from rock.
“Lithium production has risen by over 200 percent since 2010 and new rock and brine mines due to come on stream by 2022 in Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, United States and Mexico are expected to add to global capacity and double production,” UNCTAD said.
Zimbabwe has set an ambitious target of attaining US$12 billion by 2023 in potential revenue from the mining industry with Lithium alone expected to contribute US$500 000.
Currently, Prospect Resources, a southern Africa focused lithium and gold mining and exploration firm based in Perth, Australia, is one of the companies extracting lithium through its Arcadia Lithium Project located 38 kilometres out of Harare.
The development of the miner’s project will strengthen the position of Zimbabwe among the top lithium producers in the world as the project is the largest lithium deposit in Africa compromising 808 000 tonnes of lithium oxide.
Lithium is used in improving the physical and chemical properties of metals and alloys (metallurgy).
Its other uses in compound states include Lithium oxide for manufacturing ceramics and glass, lithium chloride and lithium bromide for air conditioning and industrial drying systems, lithium stearate for lubricants, lithium carbonate for medicinal drugs, and lithium hydrides a means of storing hydrogen for use as a fuel.
A substantial amount of lithium is used in the fast-growing sector of rechargeable batteries.