Lithium war erupts in Zimbabwe – by Staff (Bulawayo 24 – June 18, 2023)

THE scramble for lithium in Zimbabwe – which boasts Africa’s largest and the world’s fifth-biggest reserves of “white gold” – is escalating against the backdrop of soaring demand for the lucrative mineral, but local communities continue getting a raw deal and are largely excluded from benefitting.

Lithium is used in the manufacture of energy-storing batteries and has seen growing demand as electric vehicles gain global popularity. In the latest resource-curse controversy, villagers in the Muchemwa area of Buhera district are complaining that they are bearing the brunt of ruinous lithium extraction activity by First Roots Mining Company.

Locals have told The NewsHawks that the miner has left a trail of destruction while exposing the community to serious environmental threats. Several villagers stand to lose their homesteads and fields due to the mining activities, which cover 21 hectares, while many houses have developed cracks because of the blasting caused by the company.

The mining activity has destroyed farmland and grazing pasture while causing serious noise and air pollution. Some of the mining activity is occurring in areas with graves. First Roots has been extracting lithium in the area, which is under Chief Nyashanu’s jurisdiction, some 270 kilometres south of Harare.

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