Australian-listed Prospect Resources has found significant  reserves of lithium, a vital element in the manufacturing of electric batteries,  at its Arcadia mine just outside the capital Harare, its officials said on Wednesday.

The company said the deposits represent a 39% increase on the ore reserves announced in December 2017.

Zimbabwe is pushing lithium as one of its key minerals to grow the economy in line with its plan to garner $12bn  from mining by 2023.

The Arcadia project was a granted mining lease in August 2018 in an area that covers more than 1,000ha.

The mineral-rich southern African country has vast lithium reserves, believed to be the largest in Africa and fifth largest in the world. But most remain unexplored due to low investment.

Demand for lithium is growing in line with rising demand for electric vehicles as governments and industry players embrace the global campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In a statement on Wednesday, Prospect Resources said the increase of the ore reserve confirmed Arcadia as the "seventh-largest global hard rock lithium asset".

Prospect MD Sam Hosack said: “This incredible result confirms Arcadia as a globally unique and significant lithium deposit to supply the glass and ceramics market with technical grade, ultra-low iron petalite.

“We see the battery market as a key driver of lithium demand growth but remain focused on the glass and ceramics market where Arcadia seeks to become a significant, consistent and reliable high-quality supplier and access the premium prices available in this market.”

The company said the upgraded ore reserve estimates at the project have increased the life of the mine beyond 15 years.

It also said the mineral is close to the surface allowing for open-pit mining. 

Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED