By Lucia Botfield | The Express
ZIMBABWE hopes to become the world’s largest exporter of the chemical element Lithium.
Lithium, or ‘white gold’ as it is often known to investors, has become an incredibly valuable resource, as it is one of the key components of electric vehicle batteries. Now an unlikely African country hopes to become the largest exporter.
The global demand for more renewable energy sources has lead to a exponential demand for lithium batteries, particularly in the car industry as electric vehicles become a trend.
The chemical element can be located in Mali, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia, but it is the south African country Zimbabwe that has the largest reserve – and hopes to provide 20 percent of the worlds’ demands.
This demand comes at a cost however – with the profitable resource attracting rogue miners who want to dig it up to smuggle across the border.
This illegal mining can be devastating – earlier this year, a classroom in Kwekwe collapsed, injuring fourteen students as the fiends had tunneled under the school in search of the valuable mineral.
Lithium has also attracted international attention, with China, Canada, Australia and the UK investing in mineral batteries.
China are the biggest players in the investment game, spending more than a billion dollars acquiring and developing projects in the state.
This global demand comes at a price however, and in December 2020, the Zimbabwean government banned all exports of lithium as a raw material.
This isn’t a complete dead end for investors – it just means that it must be processed as a concrete before leaving the country.
This ban is in place to boost Zimbabwe’s own economy, and create more jobs for residents.
China has managed to find a loophole in this, however, and their investment into processing plants exempts them from this ban.
“Zimbabwe is open for business,” said President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has huge aspirations for the resource, hoping that it will remodel Zimbabwe the same way oil has transformed the Middle East.