Prince Sunduzani, Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE is set to quadruple coal production by next year following investments that have been secured in that sector, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Speaking to investors at a mining conference in London last week, Mines and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando, said the country was looking to surpass last year’s production four-fold, from two million tonnes to over eight million tonnes next year.
“Zimbabwe is endowed with massive coal resources, so there is opportunity for investments in coal. Last year Zimbabwe produced about two million tonnes and we expect that from the initiative taken so far Zimbabwe will next year produce not less than eight million tonnes of coal,” he said.
“We have been getting massive inflow of investment coming into coal. We would like to see them being extracted among other things to ensure that there is cheaper power generation and also some by-products, which can come from such investments.
“Also looking in the same area, there is a lot of investment opportunity in lithium. There are also lithium opportunities in Matabeleland and Midlands and another one in Mashonaland Central. In short, Zimbabwe is going to be a major player in lithium production.”
The conference, which brought together influential business leaders and investors from the United Kingdom and Europe to deliberate and discuss investment opportunities in Zimbabwe, was organised by Consolidated African Services (CAS) Ltd, a Zimbabwe and UK-based multi-sectoral company.
Minister Chitando called on investors to tap into Zimbabwe’s energy sector, chronicling how well endowed the country is in coal and lithium, which he said were lucrative investment areas. The minister invited prospective investors to invest in the country’s mineral production mainly along the Great Dyke.
He said Zimbabwe, which recently signed a $1.4 billion lithium deal with Prospect Resources, will sign another agreement soon for resource definition for a lithium project and was expecting a deal in the next 12 months.
Minister Chitando said Zimbabwe has over 40 known minerals but about 10 were being extracted. He said those keen on investments of more than $100 million would be given special mining licences where they can negotiate royalties and taxes.
According to business research and consulting firm, Frost and Sullivan, Zimbabwe has coal reserves that could last approximately 200 years.
The country also aims to supply 10 percent of the world’s lithium — the alkali metal used in batteries for electric vehicles and could reach 20 percent.
Speaking at the same event, senior principal director in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Mr Oasis Hove, told investors that their businesses would be secure in the country.
“It is the commitment of Government to provide protection to all investors and their investments from expropriation or from measures taken that will have a similar effect except for public purpose and on a non discriminatory basis.
“This will be in accordance with national law and principles of international law and subject to payment of adequate and effective compensation, transparency and good regulatory practices,” he said.
The country is on a charm offensive to lure foreign direct investment.