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Zimbabwe Bans Export of Raw Lithium as Demand Increases

With continued high international demand, Zimbabwe is projected to become one of the world’s largest lithium exporters, with the government hoping to meet 20% of the world’s total demand for lithium when it fully exploits its known lithium resources.

Zimbabwe has prohibited the export of raw lithium from its mines so it can cash in on value addition and stop losing billions of dollars in mineral proceeds to foreign companies.

The ministry of Mines and Mining Development on Dec. 20 published a circular under the Base Minerals Export Control Act that seeks to “ensure that the vision of the president to see the country becoming an upper-middle income economy has been realized.”

The government says it is losing $1.8 billion in mineral revenues due to smuggling and externalization to South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Gold is the most smuggled mineral.

With continued high international demand, Zimbabwe is projected to become one of the world’s largest lithium exporters, with the government hoping to meet 20% of the world’s total demand for lithium when it fully exploits its known lithium resources.

Mineral exports account for about 60% (pdf) of Zimbabwe’s export earnings while the mining sector contributes 16% to its GDP, according to a 2021 mining report by the London School of Economics.

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