Lynx Mine on brink of US$5m deal
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.