Ghana to process first lithium locally, says minister

GHANA is to process its first lithium locally to ensure it maximises its revenue from the metal, said Bloomberg News citing the country’s Minister for Lands and Natural Resources Samuel Jinapor.

“We will not export our green minerals in their raw form,” Jinapor said on the sidelines of the Bloomberg New Economy Gateway Africa forum in Morocco on Wednesday. “At the very least, we must participate at some level of the value chain” even if producing electric vehicles may not be realistic in the short term, he said.

Australian miner Atlantic Lithium expects to start production at Ghana’s first lithium mine in the second half of 2024, and the government is developing consistent policies on green minerals to attract investors, according to Jinapor.

Lithium, which is critical in the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries (BEVs), is the world’s third most common element. But production of the mineral in grades the automotive market can use is not abundant.

According to SFA Oxford, a metals research company that Sibanye-Stillwater owns, demand is expected to grow nearly 25% every year from now until 2026 by which time some 944,000 tons of demand will come from BEVs alone.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, urged more entrants to the mining sector saying that producing lithium for use in battery electric vehicles was a license to “mint” money.

Ghana mined 116 tons of gold in 2022, restoring it to its place as Africa’s top producer, and new investments may make that lead “unassailable,” he said.