Africa has considerable lithium resources, boasting 5% of the world’s total reserves. Lithium is an essential element for the energy transition and is used in a variety of applications including batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage systems.
As the auto industry shifts towards electric vehicles, lithium-rich African countries such as Zimbabwe and Namibia are poised to benefit from increased global demand.
Arcadia Lithium Project, Zimbabwe
The project is situated 38km east of Zimbabwe’s capital city of Harare. The project has measured lithium reserves of 42.3 million tons and is considered one of the world’s largest hard rock lithium resources. The project is owned by mining company, Zhejian Huayou Cobalt, following its acquisition of an 87% interest from exploration and development company Prospect Resources. The Chinese group is set to invest approximately $300 million into the project to develop the lithium mine and reprocessing plant with a capacity to develop and produce 4.5 million tons of ore and 50,000 tons of lithium carbonate equivalent, respectively.
Bikita Lithium Mine, Zimbabwe
Following Chinese mining conglomerate Sinomine Resource Group’s $180 million acquisition of the Bikita lithium mine in Zimbabwe in July 2023, construction of a dual lithium processing plant is poised to result in the production of up to 300,000 tons of spodumene concentrate – a pyroxene mineral consisting of lithium aluminum inosilicate – and 480,000 tons of petalite – a lithium aluminum phyllosilicate mineral – per year. The milestone represents part of efforts by Zimbabwe to consolidate its position as a regional lithium hub and by China to develop new mineral supply chains in Africa.
Blesberg Lithium and Tantalum Project, South Africa
Situated in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, the Blesberg project contains a significant amount of lithium – between 250,000 and 400,000 tons. Owned by mining and exploration investment company Marula Mining the first shipment of lithium ore was undertaken in January 2023 through a $5 million lithium repayment facility to management and strategic investment company, Traxys Group.
Bougani Lithium Project, Mali
With a resource estimate of 236,500 tons of lithium oxide, the Bougani lithium project is planned to be developed as a conventional open-pit mine. A processing facility for the project – being developed by lithium development and exploration company Kodal Minerals – is currently being designed to process two million tons of lithium ore per year. Kodal Minerals signed a Memorandum of Understanding with engineering and construction company Sinohydro in September 2020 to co-develop the project.
Ewoyaa Lithium Project, Ghana
Set to become Ghana’s first lithium-producing mine, the Ewoyaa lithium project has a mineral resource estimate of 35.3 million tons grading 1.25% Li2O. With production scheduled to start by the end of 2024, the project is being developed by lithium-focused exploration and development company, Atlantic Lithium, and is set to feature a life-of-mine of 12.5 years. With an initial capital investment of $125 million, the project will utilize conventional open-pit mining methods involving drill, blast, load and haul operations performed at 14 individual pits across five mining areas.
Goulamina Lithium Project, Mali
Situated approximately 150km from Mali’s capital city of Bamako, the Goulamina lithium project is projected to produce 142.3 million tons of 1.38% grading lithium oxide over its lifespan of 21 years. Developed and operated through a joint venture between mining companies Leo Lithium and Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium the total capital cost for the project will exceed $320 million and will target spodumene concentrate production in the first half of 2024.
Karibib Lithium Project, Namibia
With total production over the Karibib lithium project’s life-of-mine cycle estimated at 773,000 tons over 14 years, lithium concentrate produced from the mine will be shipped to a planned chemical plant with a production capacity of 56,700 tons per year of lithium concentrate in the United Arab Emirates. The Karibib project is owned and operated by vertically integrated lithium development company Lepidico.
Manono Lihtium Project, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Operated by mineral exploration company AVZ Minerals the Manono lithium project is poised to produce roughly 700,000 tons per year of high-grade lithium over its 20-year mine life. The project is expected to see an investment of approximately $545.5 million and will target an estimated mineral resource base of 401 million tons of 1.65% grading lithium oxide.
Manono Tailings Project, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Also situated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Manono Tailings project has a maiden mineral resource estimate of 5.46 million tons of Li2O at a grade of 0.72%. The project will comprise 11 technogenic deposits and is poised to bring an initial production of 100,000 tons per year of concentrate to the international market by 2025.
Zulu Lithium and Tantalum Project, Zimbabwe
Regarded as the largest undeveloped lithium-bearing site in Zimbabwe, the Zulu lithium and tantalum project will comprise 14 mineral claims covering a surface area of approximately 2.5km2. Owned by Africa-focused strategic metals and minerals developer Premier African Minerals the project will target an inferred mineral resource of 526,000 tons of lithium carbonate equivalent grading 1.06% Li2O. The mine started production in Q1 2023 and will see the development of a 50,000 ton per year pilot plant by research and development company Suzhou TA&A Ultra Clean Technology to the tune of $35 million.