HARARE, Zimbabwe is targeting to produce at least 10 per cent of global lithium output within the next four years, following the discovery of new deposits of the mineral in different parts of the country, SAYS Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando.

The discovery of new deposits in areas including Kamativi, in Matabeleland North Province, and in Mashonaland Central Province, has resulted in the country seeing a scramble for lithium exploration and extraction licences by foreign investors.

Last month, one of the investors, Australia-based Prospect Resources raised 10 million US dollars to accelerate development of its Arcadia Lithium Mine, located about 38 kilometres east of Harare.

The Zimbabwe government has already declared the Arcadia Lithium Mine, which is expected to start production in the third quarter of 2018, as a priority project, to take advantage of growing global demand.

Chitando said Wednesday that historically, Zimbabwe produced lithium in the Bikita area in Masvingo

Province, but the country was now witnessing phenomenal interest and development towards extraction of the mineral in other parts of the country.

We are poised to have lithium production commence or expanded in the Kamativi area where there is a huge dump, which will generate about 1.7 billion US dollars for the country, he told a mining investment conference.

Besides that dump, there is in-situ material in the Kamativi area which Government would want to see exploited. At the moment the ZMDC which holds some other assets in the Kamativi area, is entering into a

10 million USD resource quantification exercise on one of the assets near Kamativi.

Chitando said another project, the Zulu Mine located about 80 km from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, was at an advanced stage of development. The Zulu Mine project is being spearheaded by Premier African Minerals.

These projects, among others, would see Zimbabwe becoming a major global producer of lithium, he added.

We are looking at achieving production of at least 10 per cent, in the next four years, of the world lithium and certainly it should go to plus or minus 20 per cent, he said.

He said the government would also push for local value addition of the mineral, to enhance revenue earnings. Lithium is used to make special glasses and ceramics, lithium batteries, and lithium-ion batteries.

It is also the lightest known metal and can be alloyed with aluminium, copper, manganese, and cadmium to make strong, lightweight metals for use in the production of aircraft.