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Huayou starts trial production at Zimbabwe lithium mine, invests in Namibian project

HARARE (Reuters) -Chinese battery minerals producer Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt said on Wednesday it had started trial production of lithium concentrates at its Arcadia mine in Zimbabwe.

Huayou, one of the world’s biggest cobalt producers, acquired Arcadia from Australia-listed Prospect Resources and its Zimbabwean partners in a $422 million deal completed in 2022. After the transaction, Huayou said it would spend $300 million to build a plant to process 4.5 million tonnes of lithium ore at Arcadia.

“All production lines of the Arcadia lithium mine project ... have completed equipment installation and commissioning, put materials into trial production and successfully produced the first batch of products,” Huayou said in a statement.

The processing plant was completed in nine months instead of the planned year, but the company did not say when it would go into full production and was not immediately available to comment.

The Arcadia mine is expected to produce 50,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent lithium concentrate, Huayou said.

The company said Arcadia, its biggest investment in Africa to date, was a key step towards its strategy to secure and build a chain of lithium assets.

On Wednesday, Huayou also announced a A$2.5 million ($1.67 million) investment in Australia-listed Askari Metals to advance the exploration of its Uis lithium project in Namibia.

Huayou also has two copper and cobalt projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with an annual production of 100,000 tonnes of cathode copper and 10,000 tonnes of cobalt.

In Indonesia, the company has three nickel and cobalt projects, with an expected annual production of 225,000 tonnes of nickel and 23,000 tonnes of cobalt products by 2024.

($1 = 1.4937 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Nelson BanyaEditing by Mark Potter and Richard Chang

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