Zimbabwe’s Lithium Industry Attracts a New Non-Chinese Investor

Africa’s top lithium producer, Zimbabwe attracts more and more investors as the long-term outlook for the metal remains positive.

Cluff Africa, a British company led by businessman Algy Cluff, has signed an agreement with Mutapa Investment Fund, Zimbabwe’s sovereign wealth fund, to secure a 45% interest in the Sandawana lithium project.

“We are pleased to have reached this pivotal point, from which we can now begin to develop what we believe to be a world-class, high-grade lithium resource, alongside our partner Mutapa,” Algy Cluff, CEO Cluff Africa, ws quoted by ecofinagency as saying.

The UK-based firm has not yet disclosed the deal’s terms but local and international media indicate that the company will launch a drilling program imminently. Works conducted by state company Kuvimba Resources identified a lithium-bearing mineral resource of 38 million tonnes.

Cluff Africa is one of the few non-Chinese players to invest in lithium mining in Zimbabwe. Earlier this month, a company owned by Nigerian Benedict Peters announced it would start producing lithium in the country by 2025.

Over the past three years, Chinese investors were the most active in the Zimbabwean lithium industry. The Asians spent over $1 billion to acquire projects, some already operational.

The various investments reinforce China’s control over the global lithium supply chain. According to UBS AG, by 2025, over 30% of the world’s lithium production will be controlled by China, compared with 24% two years ago.

Global lithium prices have fallen sharply in recent months. Still, the long-term outlook for the sector remains optimistic, as the demand for lithium-ion batteries keeps growing driven by the adoption of electric vehicles.