Premier African Minerals (PREM.L) announced on Wednesday that it has completed the construction of a lithium processing plant at its Zulu mine in Zimbabwe. The company expects to commence production of spodumene concentrate later this week.
Spodumene is an ore with a high concentration of lithium, which is a crucial component in the production of batteries for electric vehicles. Premier built the plant with the capacity to produce nearly 50,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate annually. This development is part of a $35 million off-take agreement that the company signed with China’s CanMax Technologies (formerly Suzhou TA&A) last year.
Premier CEO George Roach announced in a statement that the company anticipates producing spodumene, a lepidolite mica-rich concentrate, and a tantalum-rich concentrate later this week, provided those final formal approvals from certain Zimbabwean authorities are obtained.
Zimbabwe holds some of the world’s largest hard-rock lithium deposits and has attracted about $700 million in investment from several Chinese firms, including CanMax. The latter also acquired a 13.38% stake in Premier last year. Other investors include Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt (603799.SS), Sinomine Resource Group (002738.SZ), and Chengxin Lithium Group (002240.SZ).
Huayou announced on March 22 that it had commenced trial production at its Arcadia lithium project, which is located 40 kilometres (24.85 miles) from Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. The Arcadia plant, which was built at a cost of $300 million, has the capacity to process 4.5 million tonnes of lithium ore and can produce 50,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent lithium concentrate.
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