Lynx Mine on brink of US$5m deal

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - BUSINESS NEWS - Africa Moyo Busi­ness Re­porter

LYNX Mine is on the brink of seal­ing a po­ten­tially game-chang­ing US$5 mil­lion cap­i­tal and fi­nanc­ing plan which is ex­pected to see it re­sume op­er­a­tions in the near fu­ture.

Cur­rently, the Karoi-based graphite min­ing — a joint ven­ture firm be­tween the Zim­babwe Min­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (ZMDC) and Graphit Kropfmhul Gmbh of Ger­many — is on care and main­te­nance af­ter sus­pend­ing op­er­a­tions last month due to cash flow chal­lenges.

It is ex­pected that once the fi­nanc­ing deal has been sealed, Lynx Mine would po­ten­tially po­si­tion it­self to ben­e­fit from the spike in de­mand for graphite across the globe.

Graphite, to­gether with lithium, is primed to be the next strate­gic min­eral in the world due to the rise in lithium-ion bat­ter­ies.

Last week, Lynx Mine board chair­man Mr Cris Chi­ta­m­bira told The Sun­day Mail Busi­ness that sev­eral in­vestors have ex­pressed in­ter­est in plough­ing funds into the mine.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions with the po­ten­tial in­vestors are at var­i­ous stages.

“We are work­ing to­wards con­clud­ing the cap­i­tal plan and fi­nanc­ing ar­range­ments for about US$5 mil­lion which should get the mine back to 500 tonnes per month.

“Pro­duc­tion has been tem­po­rally sus­pended due to work­ing cap­i­tal con­straints which have crit­i­cally af­fected ma­chin­ery avail­abil­ity and all min­ing sources.

“The mine is cur­rently un­der care and main­te­nance with a view to re­sume pro­duc­tion in a few months,” said Mr Chi­ta­m­bira.

There is a flurry of en­quiries by in­vestors tar­get­ing lithium and graphite ex­ploita­tion in Zim­babwe since the min­eral is in­creas­ingly be­ing used on car bat­tery ter­mi­nals.

Deputy Min­is­ter of Mines and Min­ing De­vel­op­ment En­gi­neer Fred Moyo has al­ready con­firmed that there is huge po­ten­tial for graphite and lithium ex­ploita­tion go­ing for­ward.

“I think there are many in­vestors tar­get­ing lithium al­though I can’t be spe­cific. What I can only say is that the world over, one of the up­com­ing strate­gic min­er­als is ob­vi­ously lithium be­cause of bat­tery cars.

“Lithium and graphite are go­ing to be strate­gic min­er­als. Graphite is used on ter­mi­nals of bat­ter­ies and then lithium-ion bat­tery is the one that can drive mo­tor for long dis­tances, go to a fill­ing sta­tion and juice the bat­tery again. So when we talk of elec­tric cars, we are talk­ing about the emer­gence of lithium bat­ter­ies,” said Eng Moyo.

China is plan­ning to phase out diesel and petrol ve­hi­cles by 2040 as they switch to elec­tric cars.

Mr Chi­ta­m­bira said in the fu­ture, there would “cer­tainly (be) a fo­cused de­mand which is go­ing to be driven by the bat­tery sec­tor, es­pe­cially in the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try where we see an in­crease in lithium-ion bat­ter­ies”.

“Lynx pro­duces graphite con­cen­trates (but) our new thrust is to pro­duce higher grade con­cen­trates which fetch bet­ter prices.

“The an­tic­i­pated de­mand has also re­sulted in in­creased pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity within the re­gion, namely Mozam­bique which will put pres­sure on pric­ing.

“We have value ad­di­tion op­tions in place to en­hance our mar­ket pres­ence,” said Mr Chi­ta­m­bira.

Graphite is a gray, crys­talline, al­lotropic form of car­bon that oc­curs as a min­eral in some rocks and can be made from coke.

It is used as a solid lu­bri­cant, in pen­cils, as a mod­er­a­tor in nu­clear re­ac­tors, in bat­ter­ies, ther­mal man­age­ment in con­sumer elec­tron­ics, fire re­tar­dants and re­in­force­ments in plas­tics.

The mar­ket for graphite is ap­prox­i­mately one mil­lion tonnes per year, of which 60 per­cent is flake and 40 per­cent is amor­phous.

Lynx Mine, which is op­er­ated by Zim­babwe Ger­man Graphite Mines (Pvt) Lim­ited, has proven re­sources of up to 12 years that could ex­tend to over 18 years.

It has been in ex­is­tence since 1965 and be­fore shelv­ing op­er­a­tions, the mine had 260 em­ploy­ees.

Apart from Mada­gas­car, there is no other graphite pro­ducer in Africa.

A new op­er­a­tion is ex­pected to be com­mis­sioned in Mozam­bique this year.

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