China’s lithium-ion battery materials firm Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt plans to invest $300 million to accelerate lithium production in Zimbabwe, according to news outlet Reuters.
Cobalt producer Zhejang aims to rapidly develop the Arcadia lithium mine and processing plant near Harare it acquired, according to Reuters.
Zhejang completed a $422 million purchase of Arcadia—one of the world’s largest the hard-rock lithium mines— from Australia-listed Prospect Resources and other Zimbabwean minorities.
Last year, Prospect Resources estimated the mine would produce an average of 75,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of spodumene and 155,000tpa of petalite concentrates during its 20-year mine life.
Arcadia’s battery importance
Arcadia’s ‘National Project’ status granted by the Zimbabwe government in October 2017 ends this year.
Arcadia lithium project was also selected as a priority project under its Zimbabwe’s Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) in January 2018.
Reuters reported that Huayou subsidiary Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe intended to develop the project over the next year and construct a process plant with a capacity to treat around 4.5 million tonnes of ore and produce 400,000 tonnes of lithium concentrate per annum.
The Arcadia project is expected to deliver its first batch of lithium-bearing minerals, spodumene and petalite in 2023.
Soaring lithium prices
Lithium prices have soared this year as carmakers have struggled to source the metal used in electric vehicle batteries.
Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe said it would employ 600 locals during the construction phase, with up to 900 jobs being created when production begins.
The global lithium market was worth $3.64 billion in 2020; the market is projected to grow from $3.83 billion last year to $6.62 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 8.1% during the 2021-2028 period, according to Fortune Business Insights’ report titled “Lithium Market, 2021-2028”.
According to the analysts’ researchers, prompt progressions in the rechargeable batteries for laptops, mobile phones, electric vehicles, and consumer goods will drive growth in the lithium-ion battery market.