A local company, Verify Engineering, has ventured into lithium battery production, heeding President Mnangagwa’s call for value addition and beneficiation of minerals for maximum benefits.

Zimbabwe, with the largest reserves of lithium in Africa, took a bold step and banned all raw lithium exports after the Government argued smuggling of the sought-after mineral to South Africa and the United Arab Emirates was costing the country US$1.8 billion in earnings.

Recently, Government approved the Lithium Ore Policy to consolidate the country’s beneficiation strategy and reap more earnings from minerals, putting a lid to the export and smuggling of lithium bearing ores.

Government is in the process of constructing a Mines to Energy Industrial Park in Mapinga, which will be the hub for minerals beneficiation.

The mines-to-energy project will include the construction of two 300MW power stations, a coking plant, a lithium salt plant, a graphite processing plant, a nickel-chromium alloy smelter as well as a nickel sulphate plant.

In line with President Mnangagwa’s calls for value addition and beneficiation Verify Engineering, a technology development parastatal under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development is already involved in the manufacturing of oxygen, most of which is exported to neighbouring countries such as Mozambique.

Currently, Verify Engineering’s oxygen plant in Feruka, Mutare, is fully operational following the commissioning of two plants by President Mnangagwa in 2021 and 2022.

In an interview Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education Permanent Secretary, Professor Fanuel Tagwira, told The Herald that Verify Engineering was making headway towards commercial production of lithium batteries.

“They are now working on new ventures; they are now into lithium battery production. It is still in its infancy but we want to graduate to lithium batteries and eventually electric vehicle batteries,” he said.

Prof Tagwira added that the company’s oxygen plant was fully operational following its commissioning by President Mnangagwa, with oxygen already being exported to Mozambique.

The Herald observed the Feruka plant running optimally, with maximum production taking place during a tour of the plant.

“The plant is doing well; it is producing lots of oxygen. As you know, it’s supplying Mozambique and Zimbabwe with oxygen. Acetylene as well and liquid nitrogen is also produced from the same place,” he said.

Prof Tagwira said the empowerment of communities under the Second Republic was paying dividends. Zimbabwean students are at the heart of the projects that have the potential to make the country a regional hub of lithium products, considering its vast reserves.

“Everything under the Ministry of Higher Education has no foreigners involved, it is 100 percent locals. What you need to know is that in Zimbabwe we have very learned people, the only thing that we had not done was give them a chance, we never gave them a chance.

“In the past people, especially those in universities, were not given a chance. Their calls to join in the development would always be thwarted and they would be told to just stay in universities and teach. Then came President Mnangagwa, everything changed,” he said.

Evidence of such an approach was the successful local production of vehicle number plates.

“In the past, the country had challenges with accessing number plates. A considerable number of cars had no number plates because we were being told that number plates could only be made in Germany, because we were led to think that we were incapable of producing them ourselves.

“And we were using foreign currency to procure them from Europe. Then the President directed the Ministry of Higher Education to take over and people thought it was a joke. The long and short of it is that, there is a local company making all the number plates in Zimbabwe better than those that we were coming from Germany and they have better features including a QR code,” said Prof Tagwira.

Verify Engineering is a wholly Government owned private limited company formed in April 2005 under the auspices of the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, but it was the Second Republic that has been pushing it forward as a main developer and applier of technology in Zimbabwe.

Source: https://www.herald.co.zw/local-company-ventures-into-lithium-battery-production/