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Shutdown Sinomine's Zimbabwe Lithium Unit Resumes Operations

Lithium Mining
Lithium Mining

HARARE (Reuters) - Sinomine Resource Group's Zimbabwean lithium mining unit has resumed operations after addressing issues relating to labor management and other regulatory concerns, the company said on Wednesday.

Sinomine's wholly-owned Bikita Minerals, Zimbabwe's oldest lithium mine, was forced to suspend operations on May 15 to allow government inspections.

In a statement, Sinomine said Bikita Minerals was resuming operations after "special inspections and rectifications have been carried out on labor management and other related issues of subcontractors."

Zimbabwe's mines ministry was not immediately available to comment.

The southern African country hopes its large lithium deposits will help revive its ailing economy as the global drive towards cleaner energy creates demand for battery minerals.

Sinomine acquired Bikita Minerals for $180 million in January 2022 and has invested a further $200 million to expand existing operations at the mine, including the construction of two lithium processing plants to produce 250,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate and 480,000 tonnes of petalite per year.

Spodumene is a key battery mineral, while petalite is a lithium mineral used in the glass and ceramic industries.

The two plants are scheduled to be commissioned by July.

Zimbabwe holds some of the largest hard rock lithium deposits in the world, and has recently attracted investment exceeding $700 million from Chinese firms, including Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt 603799.SS, Chengxin Lithium Group 002240.SZ and Canmax Technologies 300390.SZ .

(Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)