In an apparent bid to increase its industrial footprint in the booming lithium sector, the Zimbabwean government announced that exporting raw unprocessed lithium out of the country has been banned. The ban took immediate effect on Tuesday, December 20th.
This act is seen as a government initiative to have lithium for the electric vehicle battery industry processed at local facilities instead of being sent out for processing overseas.
In the order issued by Mines minister Winston Chitando, no lithium-bearing [raw] ores or essentially unprocessed or refined lithium in any form are to be exported from Zimbabwe into foreign territories without written permission.
However, Deputy Mines Minister Polite Kambamura later added that any local mining companies in the process of building their own in-country processing plants are exempted from the ban.
Kambamura added that the ban was ordered in good faith for the growth of Zimbabwe’s own lithium processing and production sector. Indeed, he opined that the country stands to lose a great deal financially if it continues to export raw lithium. In this case, developing its own processing and production firms would be a shot in the arm for the national economy.
A Most Lucrative Mineral
Over the past couple of years, the price of lithium has skyrocketed by over 1,100% as mining firms struggle to keep up with the increasing demand for the mineral, particularly in the electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing sector.
Indeed, the Rio Tinto Group’s most recent forecast shows that half of global car sales by the end of the current decade would be made up of EVs. This is a 9% increase from 2021’s total and poses a serious supply issue for the international lithium mining industry which finds itself hard-pressed to find new sources.
Not the Only One
Lithium is such a pressing concern for the Zimbabwean government that it also announced that royalties would be introduced for lithium producers by August this year.
But lithium isn’t the only raw material that has the government worried. Back in July, the government also banned the export of unpolished granite.