Bikita Minerals Lithium Mine in Zimbabwe Gets 12MW Solar PV Plus 6MWh Lithium Battery To Enhance Mining Operations

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Sinomine Resources Group Co., Ltd. (Sinomine Resources) has been ramping up operations at its lithium mine in Bikita, Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe. They have invested more than $200 million towards exploration work, mine expansion, and other strategic projects according to data from the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency. Some of the investment has gone into the construction of new plants, significantly boosting production capacity. The scope includes a gravity separation plant which is expected to produce 300,000 tons of petalite annually as well as a flotation plant which is expected to produce 270,000 tons of high-quality chemical grade spodumene concentrate annually.

The good news is that the Bikita Minerals Mine also got a 12MW solar PV plant as well as a 6MWh lithium battery to help ensure power stability for critical sections of the mine as well as reduce fossil fuel consumption. The broader scope of works also included construction of 132KV of power transmission and a transformation project including 112 kilometres of power lines and a 132KV Bikita substation project, which was invested in and constructed by Sinomine Resources, to connect the national electricity company’s Tokwe 330KV substation with the Bikita Minerals Mine.

Sinomine Resources says the project started in May 2023 and successfully transmitted power for the first time on March 17, 2024, lasting only 10 months, which is the shortest construction time and the best quality project of the same kind in the past 20 years of the Zimbabwe Power Transmission and Transformation Company, creating a new record for such projects. At the same time, it is being recognized as a model project for similar projects by Zimbabwe Power Transmission and Transformation Company.

With Zimbabwe facing a severe electricity generation deficit, these partnerships between the private sector and the utility company will go a long way in addressing some of these challenges, especially as more private firms ramp up the installation of megawatt-scale distributed solar PV plants coupled with battery storage to complement supply from the grid.

Mr. Wang Pingwei, Chairman and President of Sinomine Resources delivered a speech at the launch, and Mr. Gong Xuedong, Assistant President of Sinomine Resources and General Manager of Bikita Mine, attended the ceremony on behalf of the company. In his speech, Chairman Wang said that the project has received strong support from the Zimbabwean government, power sector, and community, adding another backbone transmission line to the national grid, which will greatly improve power supply from Masvingo to Bikita, Nyika, Zaka, and other places.

The project is also expected to improve power supply of towns along the line, and alleviate power shortages for local residents. For the Bikita Mine, it will greatly improve the power security, reduce dependence on fossil energy, and greatly reduce production cost.

Zimbabwe is one of the world’s top lithium producers (sixth as of 2022). Interest in the country’s lithium sector has been growing exponentially due to the global push to electrify transport as well as increasing demand for stationary battery storage. As several mines targeting critical minerals for the energy transition open up or expand their operations in Zimbabwe and the region, there are also growing calls for more value addition locally and not just limiting the sector to extraction and export of raw materials.

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since.

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