Zimbabwe’s biggest lithium producer, Bikita Minerals, which is owned by Chinese firm, Sinomine, has revealed plans to build a new bridge over the Save River to replace the iconic Birchenough Bridge with an initial US$10 million set aside for the project.
The Bikita mine is the largest lithium mine in Zimbabwe.
The privately owned company holds the world’s largest-known deposit of lithium at approximately 11 million tonnes.
Apparently, the bridge was funded at a cost of £145 000.00 and planned by the Beit Trust, a foundation chaired at the time by Sir Henry Birchenough whose ashes are buried beneath the structure of the bridge.
Ralph Freeman, the bridge’s designer, was also the structural designer on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and consequently the two bridges bear a close resemblance, although Birchenough is only two-thirds as long as the Australian bridge.
It was built by Dorman Long and completed in 1935. At a length of 1,080 feet (329 m) it was the third longest single-arch suspension bridge in the world at the time.
The bridge is widely considered by Zimbabweans as being one of the country’s finest pieces of engineering, and as such, it appears on the twenty-cent coin.
The Zimbabwe Department of Roads has reduced its load capacity not to allow any vehicle weighing more than 25 tonnes.
This had reduced business activities in the areas nearby since heavy vehicle trucks will not be allowed to cross the bridge.
Meanwhile, the mine is located in southern Zimbabwe in Masvingo Province.
The Bikita mine has reserves amounting to 10.8 million tonnes of lithium ore grading 1.4% lithium thus resulting 0.15 million tonnes of lithium. In June 2022 the Sinomine Resource Group company bought the Bikita mine for $200 million.