The Zimbabwean government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Chinese investors to build a US$2.8bn battery metals park.
￼President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently oversaw the signing of a MoU with Eagle Canyon International of Hong Kong and Pacific Goal Investment, to build a lithium energy park.
The ambitious plan to the tune of at least US$2.8 billion, would sit on 30-50 square kilometres.
The park, to be located at Mapinga in Mashonaland West, would be home to lithium-salt and nickel-sulphate plants, a nickel-chromium alloy smelter, solar and energy storage plants, as well as two thermal power plants of 300MW each.
Zimbabwean lithium has attracted interest over the past year, with large Chinese firms such as Huayou Cobalt and Chengxin, plus a flurry of UK explorers, staking claims in deals worth over US$700 million combined.
Zimbabwe possesses Africa’s largest lithium reserves and the fifth largest globally but the resource has remained largely untapped due to a lack of investment.
Lithium ion batteries are commonly used in the EV manufacturing industry and in lithium batteries for electric devices as well as solar panels to store excess solar energy.
Battery metal specialists say the drive for clean technology initiatives and off-grid power storage has created an enormous demand for lithium batteries and electric vehicles in recent years.
Demand is expected to accelerate rapidly.