Zimbabwe joins wave of resource nationalism with ban on raw ore exports – by Isabeau van Halm (New Zimbabwe – January 21, 2023)


In December 2022, Zimbabwe banned raw lithium ore exports to minimise the economic potential of artisanal mining and encourage investments in state-approved production facilities. Then in January 2023 another ban followed, according to the state-owned newspaper The Herald, this time for covering all base mineral ores.

“No lithium-bearing ores, or unbeneficiated lithium whatsoever, shall be exported from Zimbabwe to another country except under the written permission of the minister,” the country’s mining minister Winston Chitando said in December about the lithium export ban.

The ban has since been replaced by the Base Minerals Export Control (Unbenificiated Base Mineral Ores) Order, and adds critical minerals such as nickel and manganese ores to the list of substances whose exports are limited.

Zimbabwe is the latest country following a trend of resource nationalism, where countries are protecting their mineral resources from foreign exploitation, as governments look to capitalise on the mineral wealth within their borders. The world saw resource nationalism episodes in the 1970s and early 2000s with oil price booms, and the latest generation of the phenomenon focuses on the critical minerals needed for the clean energy transition.

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