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Ultimatum for lithium miners



ZIMBABWE’S government has set a 31 March ultimatum for the country’s lithium miners to outline their beneficiation plans as the mineral is crucial in driving exports.


Lithium is becoming a highly sought-after commodity in the quest to achieve a net-zero global economy.

Presenting the 2024 National Budget on Thursday, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube proposed a 31 March deadline for lithium miners to submit their beneficiation plans.

While there have been concerns over the exploration of the mineral by some local communities, the southern African country has reported enormous investment in the lithium industry.

“Substantial mineral revenues can be generated from beneficiation of key minerals. With a significant resource endowment of Platinum Group of Metals, gold, lithium, and diamonds, economic transformation and development can be anchored on beneficiation,” Ncube told lawmakers at the new Parliament Building in Mt Hampden.

“Within this context, any lithium value addition process that does not result in the production of lithium carbonate is not regarded as beneficiation, hence, is liable to an export tax. Lithium-producing companies should submit their beneficiation plans no later than 31 March 2024.

“Furthermore, no licences shall be granted to a prospective lithium company without approval of a beneficiation plan.”

Treasury also proposed a new tax for lithium to augment social corporate responsibility activities for the miners.

“As a token of remembrance of the mountains that nature offered, local communities should be provided with basic services that include water, healthcare, electricity and sanitation, among others,” Ncube added.

“Development of mines, thus, presents an opportunity to improve conditions within these communities, hence, I propose to introduce a 1% levy on gross proceeds of lithium, black granite and other cut or uncut dimensional stones and quarry stones.

“Mr Speaker Sir, merchandise exports stood at US$5.2 billion during the first 9 months of the year and are projected to increase by 4.3% to US$7.3 billion by year end from US$7 billion in 2022, on account of higher tobacco, lithium, and diamond exports.”

Official figures show that in 2024, despite the softening of commodity prices of key minerals such as gold and platinum-group metals, exports are projected to remain on the increase, sustained by growth in output from lithium, coke and tobacco to US$7.7 billion.

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