Several African countries have large lithium deposits, with numerous hard-rock projects that might lead to lithium extraction. However, the market is controlled by just a few developed countries.
Despite this, the demand for lithium in the market continues to rise. As such, the economic need for the mineral will not be saturated as demand for electric cars and consumer electronics powered by rechargeable batteries continues to grow.
Here are some African countries that are into lithium mining.
Zimbabwe is home to Africa’s actively working lithium mine, Bikita. The mine is the largest lithium-rich field in Africa.
Beyond the mining stage, the country has no substantial involvement in the battery supply chain.
Since 1910, when tin was found, the Bikita pegmatite has been mined regularly, while the petalite for lithium mining began in the 1940s.
The standard method of extraction of lithium ore is the hard-rock extraction method.
Bikita Minerals’ principal product is a graded petalite concentrate. This is manufactured at the mine and used for glass and ceramics.
In 2019, the country produced 1,600 tonnes of lithium, which was the same as in 2018.
The mine has spodumene pegmatites used for battery production, although the country does not contribute to battery production supply.
This may likely impact the country’s battery supply chain in the future.
Although Namibia has exported lithium, it does not engage in the battery supply chain.
Karibib mine holds the country’s most advanced lithium project. Lepidico, a global lithium firm, owns the project.
The project was lepidolite concentrated and refined using Lepidico’s patented technology.
In 2018, the country made its first export of lepidolite concentrate from Karibib.
The second mine in the country is the Uis Tin mine, owned by AfriTin Mining. Though the mine has deposits of mineralised pegmatites that serve as tin resources, it also has plans for lithium, which is in the form of petalite.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is just in the exploratory stage of the lithium supply chain. However, it has one of Africa’s biggest lithium pegmatites and is one of the most advanced projects.
The Manono-Kitotolo mine was founded in 1910 and exploited for tin until 1982. The mine project is currently under AVZ Minerals Ltd (60%), La Congolese D’Exploitation Miniere SA (25%), and Dathomir Mining Resources SARL (15%).
The firms have a JORC-compliant ore resource with an agreement that spodumene concentrate will be the primary product of lithium mining.
Goulamina (Firefinch Ltd) and Bougouni (Kodal Minerals) are two well-developed lithium exploration projects in southern Mali.
In 2021, Firefinch Ltd and Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd, a China-based company, formed a joint venture to undertake the Goulamina project.
Both parties have a (Joint Ore Reserves Committee) JORC-compliant resource estimates with a strategy to extract spodumene concentrate on-site and take it to Cote d’Ivoire or Senegal.
Atlantic Lithium, previously known as Ironridge Resources, is actively exploring the Ewoyaa project in southern Ghana.
The Ewoyaa deposit is well-served by nearby infrastructure. This includes a tarmac roadway, power lines, and a deep-water port. The project’s spodumene concentrate will be trucked to Takoradi for export.