MASVINGO: China’s Sinomine Resource Group on Monday said it has completed the construction of a spodumene concentrate plant at its Bikita lithium mine, as Chinese battery minerals producers ramp up output in the African country.
Sinomine bought Bikita Minerals, one of Africa’s oldest lithium mines, for $180 million in January 2022 and began building a spodumene concentrate plant while expanding the existing petalite plant.
Bikita will produce 300,000 metric tons of spodumene concentrate, which is further processed abroad to produce lithium minerals used in the manufacture of batteries.
The mine will also see its annual petalite output rise to 480,000 metric tons from about 50,000 metric tons previously. Petalite is used in the ceramics and glass industries.
The southern African country hopes its large deposits of lithium will help position itself for an economic boost from the global drive towards battery-powered energy.
Sinomine becomes the third Chinese battery metals producer to start production at recently acquired Zimbabwean lithium projects.
On July 5, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt commissioned its lithium concentrator, which has an annual capacity of 450,000 metric tons, at the Arcadia mine acquired for $422 million last year.
In May, Chengxin Lithium Group Co commissioned a 300,000 metric ton per year lithium concentrator at Sabi Star mine in eastern Zimbabwe.