The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
AUSTRALIAN Securities Exchange (ASX) listed miner, Prospect Resources, developer of the Arcadia Lithium Mine near Harare is optimistic its Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status will expedite its project’s financial closure.
Prospect Resources general manager corporate affairs Mr Nick Rathjen said the granting of its Arcadia Lithium Project SEZ status has been well received by potential financiers and equity investors. The Government, last year awarded Prospect Resources SEZ status for its flagship Arcadia Lithium mining project. The licence is valid for 10 years, with the ability to renew and extend prior to expiry.
“This is a great initiative by the Government to attract foreign investment and create economic benefit for Zimbabwe. The SEZ initiative sees Prospect as one of the first recipients and has been well received by potential financiers and equity investors. This will assist in our project to achieve financial closure and therefore to become operational. We see the operationalisation of the SEZ to be critical to the success of the project from its economic, logistical and operational incentives. We have welcomed this great initiative and look forward to working with the Government to make it a success for Prospect and future recipients,” said Mr Rathjen.
He said the company was set to meet its project development timeline if it manages to secure finance.
“Currently we are funding the project and believe we are engaging with the right partners to raise the required capital for the project. Once project finance is secured, we have a clear and well-defined 18-month development timeline to come into production. This sees us well positioned to commence production when lithium demand is expected to outstrip supply, with a shortage emerging,” said Mr Rathjen.
He further stated that the company was channelling most of its resources towards ensuring the operationalisation of the mine while also considering the feasibility of its future projects.
“We are conducting initial desktop analysis of the economics but we will be focusing on resources at the Arcadia Mine until the project is funded, developed and operating. We will conduct further investigations on a chemical plant once we have a working mine to develop further economic studies from,” said Mr Rathjen.
The company also expects to commercially produce lithium carbonate. To date it has established a laboratory complex in Kwekwe, which is now fully functional and supporting the laboratory scale and pilot scale production of lithium carbonate.
“The laboratory scale pilot plant that was producing lithium carbonate was designed to assist offtake partners that our product is able to produce battery grade quality lithium carbonate. We would only commercially produce lithium carbonate at the chemical plant stage, which there is further economic analysis required once we have completed the mine,” said Mr Rathjen.
A definitive feasibility study proved the lithium project will earn Zimbabwe at least US$3,5 billion over its lifespan.
It is Africa’s most advanced lithium-ion batteries project, which will raise Zimbabwe to fifth largest producer. Zimbabwe has one producing lithium mine, Bikita Minerals.
Large lithium deposits give Zimbabwe an opportunity to capitalise on growing lithium-ion batteries demand across the world, including growing demand for and transition to non-combustible energy cars. Recently, Prospect Resources discovered significant deposits of another rare earth mineral, caesium, at its Arcadia Lithium project, which is presently under development.