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Bikita Minerals Lithium mine in the Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe

Bikita Minerals has been running since 1950 one of the largest lithium mines in Zimbabwe, profiting local and international elites at the expanse of the local communities and the government through pollutions, women abuse and illicit financial flows


In the Masvingo Province in Zimbabwe, which is well renowned for its natural beauty, Bikita Minerals has been running since 1950 one of the largest lithium mines of the country [1]. Local communities are pointing out the impacts the mining activities have had on their living environment including water pollution, artificial hills of mine dumps, loss of landscape and vegetation, lack of direct benefits to them, increased vulnerability [2]. Studies from the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) have exposed potential Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) through corruption, illegal exploitation, and tax evasion from Bikita Minerals (BM) [3]. A Participatory Action Research national workshop facilitated by the CNRG featuring women’s rights activists from local districts also exposed the consequences Bikita Minerals activities have had on women and children, including child marriage, women abuses and denial of women’s right to energy [4]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Bikita Minerals Lithium mine in the Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe
State or province:Masvingo Province
Location of conflict:Bikita
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Bikita has reserves of 10.8-11 million tonnes of lithium ore grading 1.4% (equivalent to about 150,000 tons of pure lithium reserves), representing 65% of Zimbabwe’s total lithium reserves in 2019 [1] [5]. Since it started its activities in 1950, BM has been mining and marketing over 60,000 tons of lithium and caesium ore per year for the past 60 years. It is also considered as the largest petalite deposit in the world [1]. Petalite is a lithium-containing ore, which is mainly used in ceramic and glass industries. BM has a mining lease of 1,539 ha. It employed 700 people in 2016 (430 staff in 2019), and 10% were women [4].

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Project area:1,539
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectUnknown but important; 4,000,000$ over 36 months for new processing unit
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:Bikita and other local communities near the Bikita Minerals Mine
Start of the conflict:01/01/1950
Company names or state enterprises:Bikita Minerals (Pvt) Ltd from Zimbabwe - Mining company, allegedly responsible for illicit financial flows, abuses and pollutions
African Minerals (Pvt) Ltd from Mauritius - Mother company of the mining company Bikita Minerals
Relevant government actors:Former ZANU-PF Minister of Energy and Power Devlopment D. Mavhaire
Concillors representing Bikita district, Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs Cde Mahofa, Bikita West member of National Assembly Cde Chabaya
Ministry of Mines, Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (Mining authorities)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG, )
Womens' rights activists from Bikita district
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Referendum other local consultations
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Genetic contamination, Soil erosion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Strengthening of participation
Abuses on women when found on newly 'illegal' areas for collecting woods
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The mining activities haven't stopped, the beneficial owners of the company are still national elite or multinational actors. There is a planned expansion of the company's activities, including exploration and processing with potentially important impacts.
It seems that there have been some improvements in the economic contributions to the local communities (2018-2019) but still not in the expected manners, and the communities seem to fear the long-term consequences for their lives and welfare even after the mining activities cease.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[8] Mugabe R. (2015) Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act [Chapter 14:33] (2015 update).
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[5] Ober J. (2020) U.S. Mineral Commodity Summaries 2020. USGS, p. 132-133.
[click to view]

[9] Nechena H. (2016) Community participation in Community Share Ownership Schemes and development in Bikita. Thesis. Bindura University of Science Education, Social Science and Humanities, Peace and Governance.
[click to view]

[10] Ncube C., Okeke-Uzodike U. (2015) Understanding Illicit Financial Flows in Post-2000 Zimbabwe. Journal of African Foreign Affairs (JoAFA) Volume 2, Numbers 1 & 2, 2015 Pp 95-114.
[click to view]

[11] Kar D. Spanjers J. (2015) Investigating Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2004-2013. Global Financial Integrity.
[click to view]

[1] Lithium today (2017). Lithium supply in Zimbabwe. Lithium Today.
[click to view]

[2] The Standard redactor (2016) Mining operations leave villagers vulnerable. The Standard, Environment.
[click to view]

[6] Bikita Minerals (2019) Responses to “Investigating Illicit Financial Flows in Zimbabwe’s Lithium Mining Sector”, “Daggers Out for Bikita Minerals”. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.
[click to view]

[7] Mswazie W. (2017) Daggers out for Bikita Minerals. The Sunday News.
[click to view]

[12] Makichi T. (2014) Bikita Minerals to invest into exploration. The Heralds.
[click to view]

[13] Masvingo Bureau (2015) Youth League calls for Bikita, Renco mines to indigenise. The Heralds.

[13] Masvingo Bureau (2015) Youth League calls for Bikita, Renco mines to indigenise. The Heralds.
[click to view]

[14] Zimbabwe Mail staff reporter (12/2019) After all the talk, lithium is proving to be a disappointment. The Zimbabwe Mail.
[click to view]

[15] Maponga G. (2018) Bikita Minerals ramps up lithium production. Masvingo Bureau, The Herald.
[click to view]

Other documents

Bikita Minerals lithium mine from above, in the middle of the forest Screenshot from the Youtube video "Bikita Minerals 2018"
[click to view]

Other comments:[3] Maguwu F. (2017) Investigating Illicit Financial Flows in Zimbabwe’s Lithium Mining Sector. Trust Africa.
[4] CNRG (07/2016) Summary report of the Bikita Participatory Action Research (PAR).
Meta information
Contributor:Noam Marseille, [email protected]
Last update06/08/2020
Conflict ID:5139
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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