more Quotes
Connect with us

Entertainment news

Turning a makorokoza-infested mine into a billion-dollar venture – Chronicle

Raymond Jaravaza , [email protected]

STANDING in groups on the lower slopes of a huge mountain in the Sandawana area of the vast Mberengwa District, young men spoke to one another in hushed tones as though they were afraid anyone within earshot might pass on details of the conversation to the police.

Just two days before, a major police operation had driven out hundreds of them from the mountain, where they had been scrambling for lithium, blasting the precious mineral from the belly of the earth and selling it to buyers in truck loads.

Sandawana, a remote and quiet rural area in Mberengwa, had suddenly been turned into a hive of activity as illegal miners scrambled for lithium — dubbed the white gold — in an unprecedented rush for the mineral never before witnessed in the area.

Before long, multitudes of young men from as far as Mutare, Gwanda and Beitbridge had literally camped at Sandawana mountain in search of the mineral, whose value and importance in the world market continues to skyrocket as the demand for electric cars keeps surging.

Zimbabwe has the largest reserves in Africa and the fifth largest worldwide.

It was mid-November last year and Chronicle had been tipped about the lithium rush in Mberengwa and a trip to the area gave the publication an insight into the dealing and wheeling happening in the heart of the district, making it the first mainstream newspaper to break the story.

Ever skeptical of strangers, the illegal miners did not trust new faces in the area in the aftermath of the police operation that drove them out of business.

A drive up the mountain was an eye opener of the destruction of the environment in the search of lithium with huge open pits scattered all over the place as if chunks of the mountain were being meticulously chopped off the face of the earth.

Piles of lithium ore, despite the successful police operation that drove away the hundreds of illegal miners, still remained on top of the mountain and would be clandestinely loaded into trucks at night, away from the prying eyes of law enforcement authorities.

A group leader of one of the illegal miners told us there they were selling a tonne of lithium ore for US$120 and insisted that the transaction was a cash only deal.

Sanity at the mountain is now prevailing following the coming in of a major player in the area — Kuvimba Mining House (KMH), priming the sector for a massive investment outlay.

KMH announced it would be developing a US$3 billion Sandawana Mine and more than 600 000 tonnes of high-grade lithium ore valued at over US$216 million has been mined and stockpiled.
Sandawana Mine has high-grade lithium deposits.

The plant is expected to be commissioned within 18 months from the time of the announcement at the end of July.

Already, KMH has injected US$56 million towards reviving operations and exploring for lithium and other mineral resources.

The proposed project comes at a time when investments in the country’s lithium sector are on an upward trajectory.

Lithium is the booming mineral in the Zimbabwean mining sector, with world demand rapidly rising as manufacture of lithium-ion batteries soars.

KMH is carrying out a four-phased extensive exploration programme to determine the lithium mineral resources and reserves.

The scope of the exploration programme encompasses other mineral resources, including beryllium, tantalite and gold.

The firm says the three exploration companies led by an international entity are on a fast-track exploration programme with 33 drilling rigs on site.

KMH Group chief executive officer, Mr Simba Chinyemba said feasibility studies for a 4,5 million floatation plant are underway which will produce 700 000 tonnes of six percent concentrate.

“The plant is expected to be commissioned within 18 months. To achieve this, KMH is evaluating financing and technical arrangements 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,” said Mr Chinyemba.
While the discussions were said to be highly confidential, it is expected that Sandawana Mine valuation will range between US$2,5 billion to US$3 billion once fully operational.

A large state-of-the-art laboratory has been completed at the mine while lithium off-takers have been identified for the first 18 months, which will generate approximately US$700 million in the next 18 months after the first phase of the road network has been rehabilitated.

Sandawana Mine plans to construct a new 35-kilometre road and rehabilitate as well as asphalt surface a road network of over 115km.

Another key investment is the construction of a 60 megawatt solar plant with feasibility studies underway.

The electricity produced from the plant will also benefit local communities.

The peak capital investment demand for the plant construction project is approximately US$300 million.

Added to that, the mega project has in the past three months already employed more than 1 000 locals.
Given the enormous scale of the entire project, more people are expected to be employed.

In 2019, the Second Republic launched the US$12 billion mining industry roadmap to be attained by the end of this year with lithium, one of the strategic minerals to the achievement of the envisaged milestone, expected to contribute US$500 million by the end of 2023.

Gold, which is the major foreign currency earner is anticipated to contribute US$4 billion, platinum (US$3 billion), diamonds (US$1 billion) while chrome, ferro-chrome and carbon steel will generate US$1 billion, and coal (US$1 billion).

Other minerals are expected to generate US$1,5 billion.

Before the launch of the mining industry roadmap in 2018, mining exports generated US$2,7 billion annually but the figure jumped to US$5,3 billion by 2021.

At present, the mining sector accounts for 73 percent of foreign direct investment, 83 percent of exports, 19 percent of Government revenues, two percent of formal employment and 11 percent of individual incomes.

Plugging leakages

Gold has been the mainstay of the economy for years but smuggling through porous border points to date remain the Achilles Heel in Government’s efforts to boost the fiscus and grow the economy.

In 2020, Government said the country was losing at least US$100 million worth of gold every month, which is being smuggled out of the country through porous borders with authorities hard at work in implementing measures to plug the leakages.

Gold is the country’s biggest foreign currency earner. In 2019, the country earned US$946 million from US$1,3 billion in 2018 from exports of the metal.

The coming in of KMH should see an end to the illegal smuggling of lithium. At the height of the illegal mining of lithium in Sandawana, Chronicle observed over 50 trucks leaving the area laden with the ore in the two days the news crew spent undercover in the area. With the world moving towards more projects and activities that require lithium, investors have moved swiftly into the lithium extraction business.

According to the World Economic Forum, 540 000 metric tonnes of lithium were mined globally in 2021. This is expected to increase to 1,5 million metric tonnes and three million metric tonnes by 2025 and 2030, respectively.

The Minerals Marketing Cooperation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) last raised the alarm of lithium smuggling through border posts such at Nyamapanda.

The then MMCZ general manager

Mr Tongai Muzenda

is on record saying the organisation’s monitors intercepted trucks intending to smuggle lithium through various points on the country’s borders.

“It is not just happening at Nyamapanda Border Post, but generally there are a lot of cases of illegal movement of lithium happening even internally, not talking of at that border alone. The cases are so many. The illegal exportation of lithium ore is a possibility which we can’t overrule. The MMCZ monitoring and inspectorate divisions continue to perform their duties in curbing this bad behaviour.

“Our monitors have intercepted so many culprits moving lithium illegally. At times the culprits illegally moving lithium lie that they are transporting other minerals like chrome or manganese as disguise. The cases are so many. I think there must be promulgation of a law to add to the Statutory Instrument on the ban of lithium ore exports,” said Mr Muzenda, who is now late.
Value addition and beneficiation

The ban on exports of raw lithium and unpurified lithium salts must be embraced by the populace as it seeks to enhance the country’s value addition and beneficiation thrust which seeks to ensure that Zimbabwe derives maximum economic benefits from its natural resources.

Mr Edmond Mkaratigwa

As explained by the former chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development, Cde Edmond Mkaratigwa recently, the ban was one of the control measures meant to ensure there is full accountability of natural resources leaving the country.

Lithium is fast gaining popularity across the world as a critical mineral in the manufacturing of batteries mainly for electric cars, whose demand is rising especially in developed countries.

Scaling up domestic value addition and beneficiation is at the heart of the Government’s strategy to grow mining sector earnings to US$12 billion by the end of this year.

Already, the country is attracting foreign direct investment into lithium exploration and mining with projects such as the Arcadia project near Harare, the Zulu Lithium project in Insiza District, Matabeleland South, and Kamativi in Hwange District underway.

“Government plans to beneficiate lithium and we are advancing the idea, which will be implemented soon,” said Cde Mkaratigwa while adding that Government has banned the export of lithium ore so that measures are put in place to ensure accountability and to also ascertain the correct market value of the mineral.

Government wants to find out if it is getting real value from the mining of lithium and the long term strategy is to value-add and beneficiate the mineral as opposed to exporting ore,” he added.

The massive growth of mining investments under the Second Republic is creating thousands of jobs while the steady increase in precious minerals output is enhancing economic stability.

Continue Reading

Entertainment news

Tetris® 99 – 35th MAXIMUS CUP Gameplay Trailer – Nintendo Switch – Nintendo of America

Continue Reading

Entertainment news

New insights into the atmosphere and star of an exoplanet – Science Daily

Astronomers led by a team at Université de Montréal has made important progress in understanding the intriguing TRAPPIST-1 exoplanetary system, which was first discovered in 2016 amid speculation it could someday provide a place for humans to live.

Not only does the new research shed light on the nature of TRAPPIST-1 b, the exoplanet orbiting closest to the system’s star, it has also shown the importance of parent stars when studying exoplanets.

Published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, the findings by astronomers at UdeM’s Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) and colleagues in Canada, the U.K. and U.S. shed light on the complex interplay between stellar activity and exoplanet characteristics.

Captured the attention

TRAPPIST-1, a star much smaller and cooler than our sun located approximately 40 light-years away from Earth, has captured the attention of scientists and space enthusiasts alike since the discovery of its seven Earth-sized exoplanets seven years ago. These worlds, tightly packed around their star with three of them within its habitable zone, have fueled hopes of finding potentially habitable environments beyond our solar system.

Led by iREx doctoral student Olivia Lim, the researchers employed the powerful James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to observe TRAPPIST-1 b. Their observations were collected as part of the largest Canadian-led General Observers (GO) program during the JWST’s first year of operations. (This program also included observations of three other planets in the system, TRAPPIST-1 c, g and h.) TRAPPIST-1 b was observed during two transits — the moment when the planet passes in front of its star — using the Canadian-made NIRISS instrument aboard the JWST.

“These are the very first spectroscopic observations of any TRAPPIST-1 planet obtained by the JWST, and we’ve been waiting for them for years” said Lim, the GO program’s principal Investigator.


She and her colleagues used the technique of transmission spectroscopy to peer deeper into the distant world. By analysing the central star’s light after it has passed through the exoplanet’s atmosphere during a transit, astronomers can see the unique fingerprint left behind by the molecules and atoms found within that atmosphere.

‘Just a small subset’

“This is just a small subset of many more observations of this unique planetary system yet to come and to be analysed,” adds René Doyon, Principal Investigator of the NIRISS instrument and co-author on the study. “These first observations highlight the power of NIRISS and the JWST in general to probe the thin atmospheres around rocky planets.”

The astronomers’ key finding was just how significant stellar activity and contamination are when trying to determine the nature of an exoplanet. Stellar contamination refers to the influence of the star’s own features, such as dark spots and bright faculae, on the measurements of the exoplanet’s atmosphere.

The team found compelling evidence that stellar contamination plays a crucial role in shaping the transmission spectra of TRAPPIST-1 b and, likely, the other planets in the system. The central star’s activity can create “ghost signals” that may fool the observer into thinking they have detected a particular molecule in the exoplanet’s atmosphere.

This result underscores the importance of considering stellar contamination when planning future observations of all exoplanetary systems, the sceintists say. This is especially true for systems like TRAPPIST-1, since the system is centred around a red dwarf star which can be particularly active with starspots and frequent flare events.


“In addition to the contamination from stellar spots and faculae, we saw a stellar flare, an unpredictable event during which the star looks brighter for several minutes or hours,” said Lim. “This flare affected our measurement of the amount of light blocked by the planet. Such signatures of stellar activity are difficult to model but we need to account for them to ensure that we interpret the data correctly.”

A range of models explored

Based on their collected JWST observations, Lim and her team explored a range of atmospheric models for TRAPPIST-1 b, examining various possible compositions and scenarios.

They found they could confidently rule out the existence of cloud-free, hydrogen-rich atmospheres — in other words, there appears to be no clear, extended atmosphere around TRAPPIST-1 b. However, the data could not confidently exclude thinner atmospheres, such as those composed of pure water, carbon dioxide, or methane, nor an atmosphere similar to that of Titan, a moon of Saturn and the only moon in the Solar System with its own atmosphere.

These results are generally consistent with previous (photometric, and not spectroscopic) JWST observations of TRAPPIST-1 b with the MIRI instrument. The new study also proves that Canada’s NIRISS instrument is a highly performing, sensitive tool able to probe for atmospheres on Earth-sized exoplanets at impressive levels.

Continue Reading

Entertainment news

Sony Hack: Hackers Claim They’ve Breached All Systems – IGN Daily Fix – IGN

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2021 ZimFocus.

One Zimbabwe Classifieds | ZimMarket

Zimbabwe Market Classifieds | ZimMarket

1 Zimbabwe Market Classifieds | ZimMarket

Linking Buyers To Sellers Is Our Business Tradition