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Zambia secures its stake in the EV battery Market

The Kalumbila district in the North western province of Zambia is endowed with vast mineral deposits such as copper, cobalt, gold and now nickel, a key element in the manufacturing of lithium iron batteries, using electric car vehicles.

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema has recently launched the Enterprise Nickel Mine. The project owned by First Quantum Minerals in Kalumbila district carries a significance of providing raw materials for the production of electric motor vehicle batteries. Once up and running, First Quantum Minerals’ (FQM) mine will be the largest producer of the strategic metal in Africa. Nickel, like lithium, cobalt, and copper, is an essential component in the batteries essential for the new era of ‘green’ vehicles.

“I would like to thank First Quantum for the decision to invest $1.35bn in the expansion of Kansanshi…and to raise additional capital for Enterprise,” said President Hichilema at the ground breaking ceremony for the mine.

“This investment, $1.3bn, will deliver direct and indirect jobs, somewhere in the region of 18,000; and in this country, colleagues, one job supports 10 other members of the family in the house or extended. So if you do your numbers correctly, 18,000 by 10, it’s 180,000 people benefitting. That is where the value sits. So thank you First Quantum,” he added.

Designed to process 4 million tonnes of ore and produce around 28,000 tonnes of nickel per year, Enterprise will provide an estimated 700 permanent jobs while making Zambia the largest nickel producer on the continent and the 10th largest producer of the highly sought-after mineral in the world. Hichilema says development will also help the country make the vision of moving into a clean and environmental friendly nation a reality.

Traditional leaders who have overseen the setting up of the nickel mine met President to voice their concerns. “We are in the suggestion that at least 15% of the revenue collected in these mining activities must remain in the province for development in order to mitigate the negative impacts that arise from mining” Chief Munema of the Kaonde People, in the North Western Province.

FQM announced the company’s US$100 million investment into the project at the African Mining Indaba in May, where President Hichilema welcomed the investment and reaffirmed his desire to see more partnerships like this that would turn Zambia into a hub for development and secure the country’s place in the electric vehicle (EV) battery ecosystem.

The nickel processing plant, which was completed in 2016 and given environmental approval, has sat on care and maintenance awaiting favourable market conditions since then. Now, with the global push for a green energy transition, rising demand for metals like nickel that are integral to the shift, and a new, favourable mining regime, the timing is just right for the nickel operation to finally be fired up.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, FQM CEO Tristan Pascall said: “If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that stability is paramount. As key players in an industry where geopolitical security is so important, the hard work that Zambia has put into protecting that peace and stability does not go unnoticed. Zambia certainly is a prime investment destination for us.

“With over a quarter century of experience under our belt, we appreciate the importance of working hand-in-hand with stakeholders and aligning with government mandates. Soon to become our third operation here, Enterprise project is in our books, a vote of confidence from – and for – the Zambian government and the Zambian people. It is a vote of confidence in our continued transparency, responsibility, and operational excellence.” said Pascal.

This leap to secure Zambia’s stake in the EV battery market will not only shift the country’s economic dependence from copper but will also unlock fresh opportunities for business and innovation in the nickel value chain.


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