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Under govt pressure, Zimbabwean lithium miners present their refinery plans

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A Zimbabwean government official announced on Monday that four lithium mining businesses had submitted plans to produce battery-grade lithium in the country to strengthen its economy.

Zimbabwe, the continent’s leading supplier of lithium, which is used in batteries for electric cars and to store renewable energy, is encouraging miners to refine the mineral domestically. At the moment, Chinese lithium miners, who control the majority of the industry in Zimbabwe, only generate concentrates, which they export to China for additional processing.

Zimbabwe’s finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, stated in November of last year that miners had until March 2024 to submit their proposals for domestic refining.

Deputy Minister of Mines Polite Kambamura told Reuters that the government has decided to extend the deadline by two months at the request of certain miners.

“They are coming forward with plans but these are long-term plans which we are receiving. We have four large-scale producers who have come forward,” Kambamura said.

He noted that the government has not yet given the plans any thought, but he declined to identify the companies that had submitted blueprints.

Over $1 billion in investments have been made by Chinese miners, such as Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, Sinomine Resource Group, Chengxin Lithium Group, Yahua Group, Canmax Technologies, and the Tsingshan Group, in response to Zimbabwe’s some of the largest hard-rock lithium reserves in the world.

According to Huayou, it will investigate producing battery-grade lithium in Zimbabwe “only when the economic and construction conditions are right”.

According to the business, Zimbabwe lacks the natural gas, sulfuric acid, and dependable renewable energy sources required to generate lithium suitable for batteries. Nonetheless, Zimbabwe has pushed for domestic refining to profit from the anticipated rise in lithium demand as the globe moves toward greener energy sources.

“We are not going to end on concentrates, we want batteries to be manufactured here,” Kambamura said.

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Nigerian govt opens bid for 17 new oil blocks

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The Nigerian government has declared that 17 deep offshore oil blocks would be included in the 2024 Nigerian Oil Fields Licensing Round.

This was revealed at the pre-bid conference for the 2024 licencing round in Lagos by Gbenga Komolafe, the chief executive officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission.

In a statement he signed and released in Abuja on Tuesday, Komolafe provided updates on the 2022/2023 and 2024 licencing rounds, stating that 17 deep offshore blocks had been added to the 2024 Licensing Round.

He said, “In pursuit of the commission’s commitment to derive value from the country’s abundant oil and gas reserves and increase production, the commission has been working assiduously with multi-client companies to undertake more exploratory activities to acquire more data to foster and encourage further investment in the Nigerian upstream sector.

“As a result of additional data acquired in respect of deep offshore blocks, the commission has added 17 deep offshore blocks to the 2024 Licensing Round. Further details on the blocks can be found on the bid portal.”

He further revealed that “by the published guidelines, we had earlier indicated that some of the assets on offer should be applied for as clusters, namely: PPL 300-CS & PPL 301-CS, PPL 2000 and PPL 2001. Bidders are hereby advised that they may, at their option, bid for those blocks as clusters or as single units.”

Several deep offshore blocks were recently offered for the 2022–2023 mini-bid round, and the Nigeria 2024 Licencing Round also included offers for other blocks that cut between onshore, continental shelf, and deep offshore terrains.

In the 2024 marginal fields bid round, the government specifically requested investors to submit bids for 12 oil blocks and seven deep offshore assets on May 8. It was also announced on June 12, 2024, that the Federal government has raised the number of oil blocks for grabs in the 2024 marginal bid round.

The head of NUPRC added that the schedule for the 2024 Licencing Round has been adjusted to enable interested investors to take advantage of the increased chances.

He said, “Registration/submission of pre-qualification documents which was initially scheduled to close on June 25, 2024, has been extended by 10 days and will now close on July 5, 2024.

“Data access/data purchase/evaluation/bid preparation and submission which was initially scheduled to open on July 4, 2024, and close on 29/11/24 will now start on July 8, 2024, and close on 29/11/24 as previously scheduled.

“All other dates in the published 2024 licencing round schedule remain the same unless otherwise communicated.”

The current government intends to increase Nigeria’s oil production to 2.6 million barrels per day by the year 2027. Only 1.5 million barrels per day is the nation’s current Opec+ objective.

Nigeria began an international roadshow for the new licensing cycle in the United States on May 7 in Houston, Texas, with a stop in Miami, Florida on May 14.

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Central bank official says Botswana’s 4.2% growth target under threat

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Citing both internal and international limitations, a top central bank official warned on Tuesday that Botswana’s economy might not develop at the 4.2% annual rate set by the government.

In a budget speech given in February, Finance Minister Peggy Serame predicted a 4.2% increase in GDP and stated that the government anticipated growth to pick up speed starting in 2023 as a result of the diamond sector’s improved performance. The GDP increased by 2.7% in 2023.

Nonetheless, Botswana’s mining industry, which is primarily focused on diamonds, is still having difficulty, which is indicative of the weak worldwide market.

In the first quarter of 2024, sales at Debswana Diamond Company, a joint venture between the government of the southern African nation and Anglo-American’s De Beers business, decreased by almost 48% year over year.

“From what we have seen in the first half of the year, unfavourable global economic conditions … as well as domestic structural constraints, one would expect that we are unlikely to attain the projected economic growth,” Innocent Molalapata, the central bank’s director of research and financial stability, told an economic briefing.

“A downward revision of the growth target might therefore be required,” Molalapata stated, noting that the first quarter’s mining output fell by almost 27%.

The finance ministry is usually the one to provide accurate GDP growth projections, not the Bank of Botswana. According to IMF projections, Botswana’s GDP will expand by 3.6% in 2024.

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