Zimbabwe Bans Exports of Raw Lithium to Encourage Domestic Processing

Zimbabwe has decided to ban exports of unprocessed raw lithium with immediate effect, as the government looks to process the battery metal domestically. “No lithium bearing ores, or unbeneficiated lithium whatsoever, shall be exported from Zimbabwe to another country without written permission,” Mines Minister Chitando said in a written statement. The ministry said mining companies that are building processing plants in the country would be exempt from the rule.

Lithium prices have surged more than 1,100% over the past two years, as supply has been struggling to meet soaring demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and their batteries. Half of all car sales could be electric by 2030 by some estimates, up from only 9% last year. Mining companies have been looking for new battery metal sources from all over the world to boost supplies and meet demand.

Chinese miners Chengxin Lithium Group and Sinomine Resource Group are setting up a joint venture to explore for the metal in Zimbabwe. Another Chinese mining company Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt plans to invest $300 million to develop its Arcadia lithium mine.

The mines ministry said the measure was taken to grow Zimbabwe’s lithium industry. The ministry argued that development would not go far if the country continued exporting raw lithium.

In July, the African nation announced plans to introduce royalties on lithium producers from next month and banned the export of unpolished granite.

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