Lithium is one of the sought-after resources for the way energy is evolving in the world, the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Benjamin Boakye, has said.
He described the mineral resource as the gold of the electrification world.
“Lithium is one of the sought-after resources for the way energy is evolving in the current global context, so we are now talking about renewable energy that is also dependent on battery technologies and lithium plays a major role in the current environment where it is the most required mineral to be able to produce some of the most efficient batteries that we have available on the market now.
“Lithium has become more or less the gold of the electrification world that we have today, it means to allow electric cars to be produced, you need lithium batteries that are more efficient to be able to last for a longer duration. So Ghana is lucky to be among the countries that have deposits of lithium.
“The first of its kind is the one that Atlantic Lithium just signed with the Ghana government which we are hoping could be produced in 15 years. That is good news, particularly when a lot of revenue could come from that resource to support the country. The question is about refining.
“That is the aspiration of every country but the reality is, when it comes to some of these mineral deposits, if you have only one deposit which is about between 40 and 50 million tonnes, it is really difficult to justify an industry around it. Therefore, it was surprising some of the things we are hearing that we are going to refine all the lithium currently in Ghana,” he said on Ghana Tonight show on TV3 Tuesday October 24.
Ghana has granted a 15-year mining lease to Barari DV Ghana Limited, a subsidiary of Atlantic Lithium Limited, to commence the construction and mining of lithium at Ewoyaa in the Mfantseman Municipality of the Central Region.
The lease incorporates new and enhanced terms intended to ensure that the country benefits, optimally, from this mineral. This includes an increase in royalty rate, state and Ghanaian participation, as well as value addition to the mineral mined.
The granting of the mining lease follows the completion of prospecting and feasibility studies by the company, as well as series of negotiations between the Government and the Company.
The lease covers an area of approximately 42.63 square kilometres, and grants the company the exclusive right to work and produce lithium and associated minerals in the area, in accordance with the mining laws of the country.
Lithium is one of the main minerals used in the production of lithium-ion batteries, which is being promoted as a substitute for fossil fuels, as the world continues to battle with climate change.
Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels by the internal combustion engines have been identified as one of the major contributors to the climate crisis.
To deal with this, global leaders are promoting a green energy transition, to progressively limit, and ultimately, eliminate carbon emissions.
Already, some countries have passed laws to phase out vehicles that use fossil fuels.
This has created an emerging market for the battery industry, and minerals required for the production of batteries, referred to as green minerals or critical minerals.
Currently, African countries that are mining lithium export the mineral in its raw state.
Barari Ltd commenced exploration for lithium in the country in 2017 and discovered high grade lithium in commercial quantities in Ewoyaa.
Geological investigations, also, show deposits in various parts of the country, from the south to the north, predominantly around Cape Coast, Kumasi, Sunyani, Bole and Wa. However, the country is yet to commence the mining of this mineral.
Speaking at a short ceremony to sign a mining lease for Barari DV Ltd., the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, said government took a decision not to treat this mineral the same way the other minerals have been treated.
It was, therefore, necessary to put in place a special policy for the exploitation and management of this mineral before granting any mining lease.
He said after series of consultations, Cabinet approved a policy for the exploitation and management of green minerals including lithium, and the mining lease granted the company, incorporates the policy approved by Parliament.
“The Lease we are signing today differs from our standard Mining Lease, in that, it incorporates the agreed terms we have concluded with the company, based on the Policy approved by Cabinet,” the Minister explained.
Mr. Jinapor said the agreed terms give Government and the people of Ghana greater value in the mining of this mineral.
Giving some highlights on the lease, he said royalty rate has been increased to 10 percent from the standard 5 percent, and the State’s free carried interest in the mining operation has been increased from 10 percent to 13 percent.
In addition to the free carried interest, government, through the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF), will acquire additional 6 percent in the mining operation, as well as a 3.06% in the Company’s parent entity, which is listed on the Australian and London Stocks Exchange.
The Minister said the Company would, also, be required to list on the Ghana Stock Exchange to ensure that Ghanaian entities, like pension funds, and individuals who want to invest in the this business can participate in it.
According to Mr. Jinapor, the Company will, also, pay 1 percent of its revenue into a Community Development Fund, to be utilised for the development of communities impacted by their operations, and will work to establish a chemical plant for the processing of lithium.
In the event that the Company is unable to establish a chemical plant, the Company will provide its lithium to any chemical plant established by third parties in the country.
This will create more jobs and bring more development into the mining communities and the country at large.
He said Government recognises the impact of mining on mining communities, and is committed to ensure that these communities, as well as Ghanaians who are, by law, the owners of these minerals, benefit from them.
He called on the company to adhere strictly to the mining laws of the country and the agreement reached with Government, and to ensure that they engage in responsible, sustainable and environmentally-sound mining practices.
The Executive Chairman of Atlantic Lithium Limited, Niel Herbert, thanked the Minister and Government for their cooperation in reaching this milestone.
He said the Ewoyaa project is very important to the company, and the company is willing to work with Government to ensure the effective exploitation of this mineral for the benefit of Ghanaians.
He pledged the commitment of the company to abide by the laws of the Ghana, and ensure a safe mining environment.