Chinese companies that have made multimillion-dollar acquisitions in Zimbabwe will have to build lithium processing plants after the southern African nation banned the export of the metal in its raw form.
Companies must either set up local processing plants or provide proof of exceptional circumstances – and receive written permission from the government – before lithium can leave the country.
Zimbabwe is estimated to have the largest unexploited reserve of lithium in Africa and is the sixth-largest producer in the world. It imposed the export ban last week, as part of efforts to have lithium – the key raw material in electric-vehicle batteries – processed locally.
The government also wants to stop artisanal miners who reportedly dig up and take the mineral across borders. Harare says it has lost US$1.8 billion in mineral revenues due to smuggling, artisanal mining and externalisation to South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.
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