China’s Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt to pay a total $422 million to acquire the Arcadia hard-rock lithium mine in Zimbabwe.
The move marks Huayou’s second foray into lithium, a key ingredient in rechargeable batteries.
It is the latest acquisition of overseas battery mineral resources by Chinese companies looking to shore up supply to meet demand of the electric vehicle (EV) sector.
Huayou, the world’s biggest producer of cobalt, another battery metal, in 2020, said in a filing it would pay $388.8 million for Australia-listed Prospect Resources Ltd’s 87% stake in Arcadia owner Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe.
The Arcadia project aims to process 2.4 million tonnes of ore per year but has not yet reached commercial production. Prospect Resources said in July the first batch of petalite from pilot production had been delivered to offtake partner Sinomine and that it was also working on spodumene samples.
Spodumene and petalite are lithium-bearing minerals.
Zimbabwe is desperate to attract investors into its mining sector, which it says will drive the recovery of its stricken economy. It has opened its doors to Chinese firms, which now operate several chrome, coal and gold mines.
Huayou’s Executive Vice-chairman George Fang in September said that the company was seeking to invest in lithium mining and processing, including in Africa.