South African company Moti Group’s plan to build a $1bn (R17.76bn) lithium processing plant in Zimbabwe has suffered a setback as its Chinese partner reduced its stake in the venture, reported Bloomberg News.

Moti Group’s lithium mining subsidiary Pulserate Investments holds 84 lithium claims covering nearly 10,000 hectares in the Mashonaland East province.

Earlier this year, Moti announced plans to build the battery facility.

It also planned to have the undisclosed Chinese battery manufacturer increase its share in the lithium subsidiary to 70% and obtain an exemption from export restrictions imposed by Zimbabwe on lithium ore.

Moti CEO Dondo Mogajane was cited by the news agency as saying that the Chinese company, however, exercised an option to reduce its stake from 20% to 10%.

As a result, Pulserate “is adjusting its plans in line with the changes introduced by the Zimbabwean Government regarding lithium mining and processing conditionalities”, Mogajane said.

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By GlobalData

Moti currently operates a platinum extraction business in South Africa. It is now expected to either raise funds or find another potential partner to build the proposed lithium processing facility.

Mogajane was quoted earlier by BizNews as saying: “Zimbabwe’s lithium reserves have the potential to be a game changer not only for the nation itself but for the African continent as a whole.

“Projects like this could pave the way for new investments and technology transfer opportunities, further strengthening the country’s value chains, creating new employment opportunities, and accelerating the pace of economic and social progress.”