Bikita – The now Chinese controlled Bikita Minerals in Bikita is going to create 1 000 jobs and inject US$500 million into the economy from proceeds of lithium, petallite and tantalite in the first two years, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
The mine will inject US$2,5 billion in 10 years.
Mnangagwa said this during a ground-breaking ceremony for a beneficiation plant to be built at the mine by Sinomine Resources Group after an injection of US$200m into the venture.
The ceremony took place at the mine yesterday. He emphasised the need for the country to benefit from its minerals arguing that “if one teaspoon goes to the investor then the next teaspoon must come to the country”.
Mnangagwa said the previous major shareholder at Bikita Minerals was not accountable for its mineral production and Government benefitted nothing from the mining process. He admitted Government’s little knowledge of minerals and mining and said the State barely knew what was going on at Bikita.
He assured guests that the Second Republic was going to actively monitor mineral production, beneficiation and exports.
He said that the people of Bikita must be the first to be considered for employment at the mine.
Mnangagwa who introduced Wang Zhenhua as his friend emphasised to him the need to build good accommodation for workers and castigated the current houses at Bikita as subhuman. He also emphasised to Zhenhua the need to plough back into the surrounding communities.
Chinese companies in Zimbabwe has ironically been known for giving poor houses and working conditions for their workers. They are also notorious for bringing labour from their country.
He said that the lax minerals monitoring system saw De Beers looting a lot of diamonds from Manicaland for many years on the pretext that the ore that the company was taking out to South Africa was just samples for testing.
Mnangagwa further said that the Government kicked out De Beers after one of its employees let the cat out of the bag following a squabble.
“The investment by Sinomine Resource Group at Bikita Minerals ushers in a world class lithium production partner to Zimbabwe. The company’s vast experience in cesium and rubidium production as well as its strong record of developing and operating top tier assets is a welcome injection into this emerging valuable sub-sector of our mining industry,” said Mnangagwa.
Bikita Minerals is ranked world number five biggest supplier of lithium, petalite and Tantalite and number one in Africa. The mine has estimated ore reserves of 29.41 million tonnes which can be mined over a period of 25 years and the main products are technique-level petalite concentrates and pollucite concentrates with high- and low-impurity levels.
Sinomine Resource Group bought 74 % of Bikita Minerals and the remaining 26% shares are owned by former minister of Energy and Power Development, Dzikamai Mavhaire who owns 16%, Zion Christian Church Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi 5,25% and Chekilli Investments PL whose directors are not known own 4,75%.