Zimbabwe has implemented a ban on the export of unprocessed lithium in an effort to prevent artisanal miners from illegally extracting and exporting the mineral.
The country is home to significant reserves of hard rock lithium, a vital component in the production of clean energy technology. Major Chinese lithium mining companies, including Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, Sinomine Resource Group, and Chengxin Lithium Group, have acquired lithium mines and projects worth a combined $678 million in Zimbabwe and are in the process of developing mines and processing plants, which will exempt them from the ban.
The ban, issued by Mines Minister Winston Chitando, does not apply to the export of lithium concentrates, which are produced by major lithium miners in the country.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has stated that the ban is targeted at artisanal miners who have been attracted by high lithium prices and have been invading abandoned mines to extract lithium-bearing rocks, which have been illegally exported through neighboring countries.