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Kuvimba in advanced talks for lithium project partners

The company is negotiating deals with various partners that would give Kuvimba access to debt financing to advance its projects, including building a concentrator plant.

State-owned Kuvimba Mining House has advanced plans to secure investment for a $270 million lithium plant at its Sandawana Mine, where production of concentrates is expected to start by the end of 2025, it said on Tuesday.

The southern African country is the continent’s top producer of lithium, which is used in electric vehicle batteries and to store renewable energy.

The country has attracted more than $1-billion in investment in lithium projects since 2021, mostly from Chinese battery metal firms.

Sandawana, previously an emerald mine, will become Zimbabwe’s biggest lithium mine, producing 500,000 metric tons of spodumene concentrates during its first phase, Kuvimba’s acting CEO Trevor Barnard said.

The company is negotiating deals with various partners that would give Kuvimba access to debt financing to advance its projects, including building a concentrator plant, Barnard said.

He declined to name the potential investors, citing confidentiality. But he said Kuvimba was talking to other entities apart from British businessman Algy Cluff’s Cluff Africa, which this month signed an agreement to explore parts of Sandawana’s mining concession.

“The development with Cluff is at a very early stage. The other negotiations that we have ongoing are quite mature and have developed even further, that’s why we hope to start producing concentrate from Sandawana towards the end of 2025,” Barnard said.

Open pit mining at Sandawana started in January 2023, and the mine has a stockpile of 700,000 metric tons of lithium ore.

Although lithium prices have slumped from their November 2022 peaks due to oversupply and sluggish global economic growth, Barnard said Kuvimba was betting on a price recovery.

“We are expecting that to turn around in the next year or two. The demand for lithium will start to grow again, because a lot of countries are banning the production of internal combustion engines from as early as 2030,” Barnard said. – (MiningWeekly)

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