Mali’s Goulamina Lithium Mine.. Chinese Firm Ganfeng to Spearhead Production Deal

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In a significant development, Mali’s transitional authorities announced on May 14th, 2024, that they have reached an agreement with the Chinese company Ganfeng Lithium for the exploitation of the Goulamina site in the country’s south.

With operations expected to commence as early as August, this move will position Mali as a key player in lithium production, promising substantial economic gains. Lithium, widely used in batteries, smartphones, and electric vehicles, holds immense potential for the nation’s economy.

This landmark agreement marks Mali’s entry into the realm of lithium mining, potentially positioning it as West Africa’s leading producer of this critical element. Spanning 100 square kilometers, the Goulamina mine boasts estimated reserves exceeding 50 million tons, with a high lithium concentration, according to data from Leo Lithium, the Australian company initially involved in the project.

Following six months of negotiations, the transitional government’s accord with Ganfeng Lithium paves the way for production to commence in August, pending the completion of final preparations, for a tenure of 21 years.

The mine is projected to generate over 100 billion CFA francs annually for the state treasury, underpinned by the application of the new mining code enacted last year. With 35% of Goulamina’s revenues earmarked for Mali and 51% of subcontracting opportunities designated for local companies, Minister of Economy Alousseini Sanou anticipates significant fiscal inflows, with a quarter allocated to local development initiatives.

Last June, Goulamina saw the production of “direct shipping ore,” marking a preliminary milestone ahead of the forthcoming production of “spodumene concentrate.” However, production was halted the following month, and in September, Mali’s transitional authorities officially banned exports. This development was announced by the Australian company Leo Lithium, a former co-owner of the mine alongside Ganfeng Lithium, before its withdrawal from the project.

While neither the Ministry of Economy nor Leo Lithium provided further details, Africa Business Plus, a specialized media outlet, disclosed Leo Lithium’s exit from the project on May 10.

The agreement underscores Mali’s strategic positioning in the global lithium market, heralding a new chapter in the nation’s economic landscape.


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