With rock ages spanning a period of more than 3 billion years, Zimbabwe’s heterogeneous geological environment is favorable to occurrences of a variety of minerals and ore bodies. There are over 4 000 recorded gold deposits, nearly all of them located on ancient workings. The country remains under-explored to discover new deposits as well as realizing the full potential of known deposits. More than 90% of gold deposits in Zimbabwe are associated with greenstone belts, which are some of the richest and comparable to those in some leading gold-producing countries like Australia, South Africa, and Canada.
Mining could prove to be big business in Zimbabwe, with mineral exports responsible for 60% of the country’s export earnings as of October 2018. The mining sector contributes around 16% of the national GDP. However, this potential has been hamstrung by an inefficient sector, which has failed to meet its 2019 gold production target of 40 tons and reached a value estimated to be around just $3bn. A key contributing factor is the country’s lax licensing laws, which permit foreign companies to own 100% of a mining license for any commodity, save platinum and diamonds, in perpetuity.
The most common lithium economic minerals are spodumene, petalite, and lepidolite. Eucryptite and amblygonite have been mined in Zimbabwe, although the deposits are rare elsewhere in the world. There are also hectorite and jadarite with potential for economic deposits. Zimbabwe only mines and exports raw lithium ore from its Bikita mine, although there is some value addition in several operations on the upstream side of the supply chain.
The government of Zimbabwe decided in December 2020 to dispose of 60% of fidelity and refiners, which is responsible for gold refining and the sole buyer of gold in Zimbabwe. The stake to be disposed private entities in the gold mining industry. The central bank of Zimbabwe offers 50% of the refining business to large gold producers, with 7% going to small-scale miners and 3% to gold buying agents. The government has also outlined ambitious plans to quadruple the sector’s total value to $12bn by 2023 as it looks to take advantage of abundant natural resources such as the country’s Great Dyke, the second-largest platinum deposit in the world with around 2.8 billion tones of ore belonging to the platinum group metals.
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