Rwanda to set up Lithium refinery

On 17 July 2023 at 04:27

Rwanda is set to establish a Lithium refinery in the near future, according to Amb. Yamina Karitanyi, the CEO of Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB). Lithium, a valuable mineral used in the production of batteries for electronic devices such as phones, computers, and cameras, will be processed at the refinery.

In 2020, preliminary research confirmed the presence of Lithium in Ngororero District, leading to Rwanda’s interest in developing a refinery for the mineral.

Amb. Karitanyi recently revealed in an interview with CNBC that Rwanda already has refineries for gold, tin, and tantalum, and they have plans to establish a Lithium refinery as well. The country aims to collaborate with regional partners to ensure sufficient reserves for the refinery to operate at full capacity.

Until 2020, Lithium was not as widely known or in demand due to its relatively low price. However, its value began to rise significantly as of December last year. In January 2018, a kilogram of Lithium cost US$20.5, but by December 2020, it had dropped to US$9 (Rwf9000). The decrease in value was mainly attributed to increased production coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, the price of Lithium has experienced a substantial surge. In April 2021, it increased by over 600% and reached US$78,000 (over Rwf78 million) per ton. This surge can be attributed to the growing production of electric vehicles, which rely on large energy-saving batteries that require Lithium. In 2021, 6.6 million electric vehicles were sold, double the number sold in 2020. Experts in the mining field predict that Lithium will continue to be an excellent investment, as it is estimated that over 26 million electric vehicles will be sold by 2030.

Considering these trends, the price of one tonne of Lithium is expected to rise from US$44,090 in 2022 to US$61,520 in 2023. Rwanda’s plans to establish a Lithium refinery align with the increasing demand for the mineral and the potential for significant growth in the electric vehicle market.

Lithium is one of high value precious stones in the mining industry.