By Business Reporter – Friday 15 May 2020
HARARE (Mining Index) – RUSSIA’S state nuclear company, ROSATOM, through its subsidiary, Uranium One Group (U1G) could be Zimbabwe’s major importer of lithium.
Zimbabwe is expected to become one of the leading lithium exporters if the mineral continues to be a hot metal on the global market.
With global demand for lithium being driven by Electric Vehicles (EV) growth, the strategic race by nations to secure battery metals is a continuing theme in 2020, and Prospect Resources is at the forefront of this in Africa through one of its largest undeveloped lithium deposits in the world, the Arcadia lithium project in Zimbabwe.
Russia has been pursuing application of lithium-ion battery technology in its economy, specifically focusing on EVs.
While noting Russia’s lack of substantial lithium reserves, the Asian country remains committed to building a renewable energy supply chain with Uranium One mandated to manage this clean energy portfolio.
“This has firmly placed Arcadia on the map, as Uranium One conduct a global search to strategically secure supply of lithium and other battery metals,”
“To Russia, Arcadia represents a potential cornerstone asset to build out a battery supply chain and EV ecosystem. We see Uranium One as a complimentary partner to our existing offtake partner Sinomine and our future partner, Sibelco,” said Sam Hosack, Prospect Resources Managing Director in a letter addressed to shareholders.
According to Prospect, Arcadia is in a unique position as it is the only lithium asset that will produce both low iron spodumene for the electric vehicle market and ultra-low iron petalite lithium concentrates for the glass and ceramics markets. Prospect is expected to be the largest ultra-low iron petalite producer in the world.
In December 2019, Prospect signed a MOU with Uranium One providing them exclusivity (subject to certain conditions) through to 10 August 2020 to allow them to complete due diligence with a view to potentially entering into an offtake agreement for at least 51% of Arcadia’s future lithium production, and an equity investment in Prospect or its subsidiaries.
This follows similar MoUs on lithium that Rosatom signed in 2019 with Canadian corporation Wealth Minerals’ Atacama lithium greenfield project in northern Chile outlining the acquisition by U1G of up to a 51 percent ownership.
In May 2018, the Russian company also signed a similar document with the Chilean Atomic Energy Commission covering lithium processing.
In April this year, Prospect entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SCRSibelco N.V (Sibelco) for the off take of Arcadia’s ultra-low iron petalite product.
Hosack noted COVID-19 has substantially reshaped the global landscape, not only for investors, but particularly new opportunities within the clean energy supply chain.
“This shifting focus towards clean energy minerals such as lithium has attracted enormous awareness as the drop in airborne pollution during lockdown has reinforced the mechanism to reduce emissions, we need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Hosack. ENDS// www.miningindex.co.zw
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