BIKITA Minerals plans to increase petalite production by 74 percent by the end of the year from an average of 46 000 tonnes annually on the back of the company’s $10 million recapitalisation project.
Petalite is the major mineral mined at the Masvingo-based mining concern and contains 4.5 percent of lithium.
Addressing journalists before a tour of the mine last week, Bikita Minerals chief executive officer Mr Grant Hudson said his company acquired new machinery which would increase production starting in June.
He said the mine would also work on the exploration of spodumene which had more lithium.
Spodumene is a pyroxene mineral of lithium inoslicate. It occurs as colourless to yellowish, purplish or lilac.
“We are moving with haste to increase petalite production by at least 50 percent by June this year.
“In 2017, our production was 46 000 tonnes of petalite and we want to increase it to at least 80 000 tonnes per year,” said Mr Hudson.
He said the company had made notable investments into new machinery which will help in the drilling for about 17 kilometres as part of the new exploration work.
Mr Hudson said before 2014, there had been no exploration for 24 years as the previous operators depended on dumpsites.
“We have acquired a new plant at a cost of $4 million but we have also invested more than $6 million for drilling, surveying and other exploration work.
“We want to find out how much spodumene we can explore since we discovered the mineral deposits during extraction of other minerals.
“We have seven minerals here but we concentrate on two minerals which have economic value-petalite and lithium,” he said.
Mr Hudson said the company employs more than 500 people, most of them coming from Bikita district, save for those with special skills.
He said the number of people employed had the potential to increase given the expected phenomenal growth after recapitalisation.