Chinese companies eye yet another Zimbabwean lithium asset, Sandawana

By bne IntelliNews May 27, 2024

Kuvimba Resources (Kuvimba), which is majority-owned by the Zimbabwean state, has said its lithium project south of the country has attracted interest from China and other countries.

Mining Weekly wrote on May 23 that Kuvimba has identified a lithium ore resource of 38mn tonnes at Sandawana, a former emerald mine formerly owned by Rio Tinto.  

“It’s not just China, but from other nationalities as well,” said chief executive officer Trevor Barnard.

“We are working on a structure that can accommodate a number of possible investors and those investors will be able to take a portion of the resource that is available at Sandawana and develop that.”

Chinese companies have invested more than $1bn in up to five lithium projects in the southern African nation.  The investors include Sinomine and Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt. 

Barnard, who previously held roles at Anglo American, met top officials at British firm, Cluff Resources in April 2024, but said discussions were also taking place with a number of other potential investors.

Kuvimba, 65% owned by the Zimbabwean state, is undertaking further exploration, with the Barnard expecting to get close to a lithium resource of 100mn tonnes.

The company plans to spend as much as $300mn developing the first phase of a lithium mine, plus a processing plant, Barnard said.

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