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HomeNewsRoad Construction Workers Stumble Upon Massive Lithium Deposits Between Ngundu and Runde

Road Construction Workers Stumble Upon Massive Lithium Deposits Between Ngundu and Runde

A group of road construction workers engaged in the upgrading of the Harare-Beitbridge highway near Ngundu have made an accidental discovery of substantial lithium deposits, a local publication confirmed.

During the widening of the road between Ngundu and Runde, workers from Bitumen, one of the contracted companies for the 582km road project, encountered a section close to a mountain that required trimming. It was during this process that they unexpectedly stumbled upon lithium ore.

A source within the company shared, “There are massive mountains there, and the deposits must be huge. As the workers were widening the road, they came to a section which is close to a mountain, and they had to trim the side of the mountain a bit. That’s when they stumbled on the lithium ore.”

Officials from the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe and the mines ministry have visited the site and confirmed the potential significance of the lithium ore deposits, according to the same source.

Zimbabwe is known to possess the largest lithium reserves in Africa and has attracted investment in battery minerals from various countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, with China being a dominant player in the sector.

Lithium mining has been conducted in Zimbabwe for over six decades. However, the global demand for lithium has surged in recent years due to its extensive use in manufacturing rechargeable batteries for mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras, military hardware, and electric vehicles. Its applications also extend to heat-resistant glass and ceramics, lubricating greases, and lithium-ion batteries.

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The proliferation of lithium mining activities in Zimbabwe has led to tensions between local communities and mining companies. Some residents accuse the miners of altering the landscape and desecrating ancestral lands, particularly the mountains that hold sacred significance.

To capitalize on the increasing demand, Zimbabwe implemented a ban on the export of raw lithium ore last year. This move aligns with the efforts of countries like Indonesia and Chile, which aim to maximize returns on their lithium, cobalt, and nickel deposits by requiring miners to invest in local refining and processing before exporting.

The locally-produced concentrate is further processed into battery-grade carbonate for exportation outside Zimbabwe. In 2022, the average price of battery-grade lithium carbonate was estimated at US$37,000 per metric ton.

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