Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT has unveiled plans to construct a 20MW solar plant in Kamativi, Matabeleland North province, with the defunct tin mine, which closed more than 20 years ago, expected to reopen in 2023.

A pilot exploration exercise is still going on at Kamativi mine amid indications this could unlock an estimated US$1.4 billion in lithium value, which would pave way for the full-scale exploitation of the strategic mineral, according to the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).

Under the country’s economic recovery drive the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development has been mandated to facilitate the re-opening of closed mines such as Kamativi, among others. This has seen the Government engaging potential investors to be considered in key projects to aid capacity building towards unlocking vast mineral value.

Exploration works are said to be ongoing to increase the resource base and confidence for Kamativi mine with a target to get the mine operational and feed into the mining vision of a US$12 billion industry by 2023.

“There is an exploration programme currently underway to increase the resource base and confidence for Kamativi mine with a target to get the mine operational by 2023. There are also plans to construct a 20MW solar power station,” Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Polite Kambamura, told Parliament last week.

Legislators had asked what plans the Government had concerning the re-opening of the mine, which was closed in 1994. At the time of closure the international price of the resource had plummeted to unsustainable levels. The tin mine was employing about 3 000 workers and still had a life span of over 40 years. During discussion, Binga South MP, Gabuza Joel Gabuza, felt the exploration exercise had taken long and asked the Government to clarify existing bottlenecks. Other legislators weighed in and urged the Government to closely supervise and exercise due diligence on the potential investors to ensure success of the project.

In response, Deputy Minister Kambamura said the exploration programme was still on and called for patience saying geological survey results would soon be out.

“Exploration is not a one-day thing but it is a cost intensive operation and also time consuming. Some of these activities can take up to three or five years exploring. We are getting results through the geological survey of Zimbabwe from the investors with regard to this concession,” he said.

“When an investor comes, he has to gain confidence first so that is the process that they are currently doing. They have to increase the resources base, the size of the reserve and they have to increase the level of confidence into the resources before they can pump in money.”

It is hoped that once full-scale lithium production begins at Kamativi, the mine will employ up to 700 people. In 2015, ZMDC secured a new investor, China Beijing Pinchang, to resuscitate operations at Kamativi Tin Mine under a US$102 million investment deal.