Zimbabwe Bans Export of Lithium. A Smart Decision?

Chibuzo Nwachuku

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Zimbabwe made it's latest move to ban it's abundant nature-given resources, raw lithium materials and to have them processed locally. The decision has drawn fears of elevated prices of lithium worldwide amid plans to start using electric cars. The move was made to raise its value and also to stop losing billions of dollars in raw materials to foreign countries who all benefited from the export of the fresh materials. According to the government, the $1.8 billion-loss in the minerals is attributed to the smuggling and externalization to South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Export of the metal is forbidden unless with documented permission with verified "exceptional circumstances " according to the circular by the country's mining minister Winston Chitando. Not that it is the mineral most smuggled from there but the country aims to become one of the biggest lithium exporters in the world. The government is targeting the production of 20% of the world's overall demand for lithium as it utilizes its own lithium resources. Zimbabwe is the country with the most deposits of the metal in Africa. Having produced 1,200 tonnes of lithium in 2021, it became the world's sixth-biggest mining nation.

Ever since the world started moving to clean energy, lithium has been of critical significance in the production of batteries with high energy densities, because it has a high electrochemical potential. Unfortunately, processing raw materials would increase the costs of electric cars. Sources: https://www.cips.org/supply-management/news/2023/january/zimbabwes-ban-on-lithium-exports-raises-fears-over-global-prices/#:~:text=Zimbabwe%20has%20banned%20the%20export,lithium%20miner%20on%20the%20continent., https://northafricapost.com/63912-zimbabwe-bans-raw-lithium-exports-as-demand-prices-soar.html

I can understand how disappointing it is to raise the cost of products that need raw materials that can't be found locally but what about the countries that have them? Some people overlooking positive effects fail to do smart things but change their minds after seeing other reasons to do so. That is what the government of Zimbabwe did. They should have taken advantage of the resources they got all those years. Following the loss from the illegal smuggling, they changed their minds. That helped and hopefully they learned from their mistakes. They should follow the examples of Ghana and Uganda, so should the rest of Africa. Each country of the continent needs to guard its resources so that people from other countries even its neighbors can't gain access illegally. Processing naturally occurring materials raise their prices and generate bigger revenues. Many leaders and other people of nations of the continent still have their minds stuck back at the colonial era. They need to start making good use of the natural resources. What do you think about the decision?

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