Zimbabwe earned US$209 million from the export of lithium in the first nine months of 2023, nearly three times more than last year’s earnings, Mines and Mining Development Minister, Zhemu Soda, said on Wednesday.

The Herald reported Minister Soda as saying that the rise in demand for lithium and battery minerals is due to the growth of green energy industries.

He was speaking at the inaugural Lithium and Battery Minerals Conference held on the sidelines of the Mine Entra 2023 Exhibition in Bulawayo. Said Soda:

"The respective export revenue generated from the export of lithium during these years grew from US$1.8 million in 2018 to US$70 million in 2022.

By September 2023 a total of US$209 million had been realised from lithium exports, which is a very impressive improvement."

According to ZimLive, Chinese firms, including Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt (603799.SS), Sinomine Resource Group (002738.SZ), Chengxin Lithium Group (002240.SZ), Yahua Group (002497.SZ) and Canmax Technologies (300390.SZ), have spent more than US$1 billion over the past two years to acquire and develop lithium projects in Zimbabwe.

The Chinese companies have built processing plants commissioned this year and are shipping lithium concentrates to China for further processing.

Zimbabwe banned the export of raw lithium in December 2022 in an effort to promote value addition and beneficiation of the mineral.

Minister Soda also said other major lithium producers are expected to start operations in Zimbabwe in 2024 as the country seeks to expand output. He said:

"The demand for materials used to manufacture lithium-ion batteries has increased dramatically.

Due to this demand, new investors, both local and foreign, have entered the sector to mine, process, and export lithium and battery minerals from Zimbabwe.

Lithium and battery minerals have the potential of powering Zimbabwe’s future through exploitation of all the available opportunities of the sector."