Lithium Depots: The ‘New Oil’ For Africa’s Economic Growth .
The African continent is blessed with numerous natural resources and minerals among which is Lithium. Lithium currently may be Africa’s opportunity to develop its economy.
Lithium is used in manufacturing certain batteries and even Aircrafts. These batteries are known as Lithium-ion Batteries specifically called LIBs. LIBs have recently become a solution to energy storage across the globe. Due to its high energy density, high power density, and long life span, manufacturers of electric vehicles, grid storage, and portable electronics find Lithium-ion Batteries the best options for production.
And so, the demand for Lithium-ion Batteries for car production has made Lithium the “white gold” or even the “new oil”. And with such a contribution, Africa’s envisioned growth would’ve to be understated.
With what is called the green power revolution, suppliers of Lithium may have a share of multi-billion dollar estimated profits. And this is where Africa comes into question.
Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo are the top richest countries in Lithium worldwide. This makes Africa, the home to the World’s biggest Lithium Depot.
Lithium Depots In Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe may be rich in coal, chromium ore, copper, nickel, vanadium, tin, and diamonds but what makes Zimbabwe the topic of discussion is its significant wealth in vermiculite, chrysotile, asbestos, and most of all, Lithium.
Zimbabwe has two mine reserves namely Bikita and Arcadia.
Bikita is the largest Lithium mine in all of Zimbabwe. The world’s largest-known deposit of lithium at approximately 11 million tonnes belongs to a privately owned enterprise. In the Bikita mine reserve is Lithium amounting to 10.8 million tonnes. When this Lithium ore is graded, it is 1.4% lithium thus resulting in 0.15 million tonnes of lithium.
Bikita has seen some of the world’s largest Lithium deposits which have been in operation since 1911. It is also seen as the largest petalite deposit in the world.
In Arcadia, the specification of lithium is 43.2 million tons, of which proved and controlled resources are 37.4 tons, and unexploited reserves are 15.8 million tons.
The Zimbabwean government certified the Arcadia project as a National project in 2017 to last for 5 years. It became a Rapid Results Initiative in 2018 aimed at enhancing a reduction in complex administrative procedures for the development of projects. This meant that carrying business out will now be of ease.
The location for the Arcadia Lithium project lies 38km east of Harare. Almost close to the Arcturus Gold mine.
Lithium Depots In Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo also holds an enormous quantity of minerals which are supposed to serve as economic drivers. The country has diamond, copper, tin, tantalum, and 70% of the globally produced cobalt. This cobalt serves as the country’s largest revenue.
However, in 2018, a study showed a huge high-grade deposit of 1.5 billion tonnes of lithium spodumene hard rock situated in Manono, Central Democratic Republic of Congo. With an increase in demand for electric vehicle battery, mining lithium in the country is expected to create more wealth. Mind you, this country is already one of the richest in terms of natural resources and minerals.
An Australian company named AVZ Minerals in an agreement with the state-owned enterprise, Congolaise D’exploitation Miniere, is developing a Lithium and Tin project where they hold a greater share of 75%. Comparing this project to the famous Greenbushes spodumene hard rock deposit in Western Australia, we’d say that this project is going to be the largest lithium spodumene hard rock deposit in the world.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is recognized to be the wealthiest country in the world with untapped resource wealth and has an estimated US$24 trillion in untapped mineral deposits.
It is no surprise that Lithium is part of it.
Although scientists in Japan may be working tirelessly on producing an alternative to Lithium-ion batteries by using Sodium which is more common, it seems that for a while, which will be decades, Africa might see substantial growth with its Lithium reserves.
Lithium-ion Batteries are going to power the next decade and for the time being, companies are going to ensure a sustainable and ethical supply of lithium and that is how Africa gets wealthy.
Currently, one Kilogramme of Lithium costs $13.75 on the international market. Considering that the total reserve on the African continent is close to 1 Billion Kilograms, it is estimated that the continent could be richer by over 13 Billion Dollars just from Lithium alone.
Hopefully, this mineral resource is exploited and well-managed before its usage fades out from the system.
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