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14 Nov 2022

Zimbabwe: Government moves to control lithium mining as reports of illicit and unregulated mining activities emerge in Midlands

‘Govt blocks small-scale miners from lithium fields’ 11 November 2022

GOVERNMENT has barred artisanal miners and lithium buyers who had thronged the Sandawana Mine in Mberengwa ultimately giving exclusive rights to the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) through Kuvimba Mining House, who will buy the mineral while assisting the miners with equipment and other accessories. More than 5 000 artisanal miners and fortune seekers, including foreigners, mainly of Chinese origin, had for the past month descended on the former emerald and tantalite mine in the Midlands province, in search of lithium which they reportedly exported to foreign markets across the world.

…Investigations by the Independent last week unearthed shenanigans by foreign buyers and their Zimbabwean cohort who were buying the mineral from the artisanal miners at a paltry US$150 per tonne. The foreigners were reportedly using their counterpart's licences to export the mineral outside Zimbabwe and selling the precious ore at US$800 per tonne cashing in on the illicit and unregulated mining activities in the area. However, following reports of illicit and unregulated mining activities, the government moved to control the mining and selling of the mineral while giving the ZMF exclusive rights to manage the mining processes at the site.

He added that the government had agreed with Kuvimba officials, who are the holders of titles in the mines, to let registered artisanal miners continue their activities while selling the mineral to the company. “The miners need to be formalised through the process of registration so that they benefit from the provision of technical expertise, provision of equipment and other benefits. Kuvimba Mining House is going to be the sole buyer of lithium ore being mined here because they own the claims. “We have agreed not to chase people away but we need to formalise their activities so that they mine and get paid to earn a living,” Kambamura added…Environmentalists last week said lithium required government intervention to protect the villagers who have been bearing the brunt of the latest developments. Over this year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa officially opened several lithium mining companies but there hasn’t been much talk on the beneficiation of the mineral.