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Kenticha Mining Plc is set to turn the switch on Ethiopia’s inaugural lithium mining project within months.

The company is making final preparations to begin commissioning a lithium mining project with a target of generating USD five billion in revenue over the next five years. The company anticipates to export the mineral within three months.

Located in the eastern Guji Zone of Oromia state, the project has attracted USD 11 million in investment so far. The investors have finalized preparations for mining to begin in three months, using lithium mining machines capable of producing 100 tons of lithium per hour.

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“The lithium mining machines have arrived at Djibouti,” said Sammy Million, deputy CEO of Kenticha Mining Plc and board member of Africa Mining and Energy (AME). The machines will crush and extract lithium from rocks.

AME is a member of a group of companies that formed Kenticha Mining Plc.

“The lithium concentrate is of high quality and we have already reached agreements to export 20,000 tons of lithium monthly to Australia, the USA and Singapore, at USD 6,000 per ton,” Sammy told The Reporter.

The company has identified 150 million tons of lithium reserves in east Guji.

Kenticha Mining, an amalgamation of investors from Australia, South Africa, and Ethiopia, secured a mining license from the Ethiopian Ministry of Mines (MoM), signed by the then Minister Takele Uma. The license is valid from 2023 to 2026.

The company has registered 390 million birr in investment capital, according to the license. It allows Kenticha Mining Company to explore and produce tantalum, lithium and niobium on a 4.9 square kilometer area of land in east Guji.

The company has explored down to 4,000 meters so far, and will eventually dig down 40,000 meters.

The lithium project will unfold over three phases using technologies suited for the three types of lithium, including lithium concentrate, lithium carbonate, and lithium hydroxide. Current international prices for the three are USD 6,000, USD 15,000 and USD 60,000 per ton, respectively.

The company plans to produce all three types in the coming years.

The next phase, targeting lithium carbonate production from Guji, will require more advanced machinery.

“The machines for the second phase will cost us USD 250 million. It will increase our production capacity to 300 tons per hour. Lithium carbonate is a more value-added, expensive type of lithium,” said Sammy.

In total, the equipment to produce all three types of lithium will cost around USD one billion, according to the Deputy CEO.

The company has already reached preliminary agreements with foreign partners. “Saudi Arabia is highly interested in purchasing our lithium production. They are planning to transition from fossil fuel production to electric vehicle batteries. So they want to buy large quantities of lithium from us,” Sammy explained.

Sammy claims that China, the US and Singapore have also sent contract agreements to purchase more lithium.

According to the investors, the project will be a game-changer for Ethiopian exports, with the potential to generate USD five billion over the next five years.

Nonetheless, investors remain concerned about security issues in the area.

“We could not start operations earlier due to security concerns. But the situation has stabilized since the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) began protecting the area,” Sammy explained.

Kenticha is a community-based project, says Sammy. “So far, we have built roads, health centers and schools, and secured medicine supplies for the area. We have established a community advisory board and allocate project dividends to support local needs, on top of taxes, royalties and dividends for the government,” Sammy explained.

However, he stressed that to resolve broader challenges in Ethiopia’s mining sector, the country should join the International Council on Mining and Metals. “Ethiopia needs the right mining policies. There is confusion around exploration and operations,” he said.

#Ethiopias #Largescale #Lithium #Nears #Commissioning

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