Kuvimba to sink US$250m into beneficiation plant

Kuvimba Mining House Group chief executive officer Simba Chinyemba

Resources giant Kuvimba Mining House (KMH) is set to sink US$250 million into the construction of a beneficiation plant at its lithium mine operation, Sandawana Mines, Standardbusiness can reveal.

KMH, which is 65% owned by the government, took over Sandawana Mines in 2019 and has so far invested US$56 million to make it one of the biggest lithium producers in the world.

The mine, situated in Mberengwa district, is rich in vast mineral resources that include tantalite, mica, emeralds, copper and gold.

Once owned by Rio Tinto, Sandawana Mines was one of the world’s largest emerald mines, before it shut down in 2010 after production plummeted and it lost markets

Sandawana Mines general manager Godwin Gambiza told Standardbusiness in an interview last week during a media tour of the mine that KMH was committed to mineral beneficiation and value addition.

To that end, feasibility studies for a 4,5 million-tonne per annum beneficiation plant were underway.

“For the beneficiation plant, it has got two phases. Phase one of it is the dense medium separation. We have budgeted about US$50 million for that,” Gambiza said.

“Phase two of the beneficiation plant is the floatation plant itself.

“That one we've budgeted US$200 million. So, altogether that gives you US$250 million for a combined beneficiation plant.

“The work has already commenced in terms of the feasibility studies.

“Some metallurgical tests are being conducted on our material so that we can establish the stability of our own.

“But looking at the timelines themselves, we are saying in 12 to 18 months we should have completed everything, including commissioning of the plants.”

KMH Group chief executive officer Simba Chinyemba said the mining outfit was currently evaluating joint venture potential with some of the world’s largest companies in the lithium battery technology space.

“Discussions are at an advanced stage with at least three potential partners,” Chinyemba said in a statement.

The company commenced lithium open-pit mining operations in January this year, and to date, it has mined and stockpiled over 600 000 tonnes of high-grade lithium ore, valued at over US$216 million. A large state-of-the-art laboratory has also been completed at the mine.

Based on the resource alone, the Sandawana Mine valuation now ranges between US$2,5 billion to US$3 billion, according to Gambiza.

Before the asset was taken over by KMH, the mine was considered to have a valuation of less than US$5 million.

The mining lease and claim holdings cover a 21 kilometre-long strip along the Mweza Mountain Range.

Sandawana Mines commenced mining operations in the 1950s as an emerald mine. It has changed hands over its long history.

Operations wound down in 2010 due to working capital challenges and a reduction in the emerald resources.

KMH is an investment and holding company of mining entities working in special minerals, energy minerals, and base metals acquired the asset.

It has acquired and turned around mines that are of a strategic importance to the country including Freda Rebecca Gold Mine, Bindura Nickel Corporation, Zimbabwe Alloys. It is also the managing contractor for Ziscosteel.

Related Topics