Namibia has imposed an export ban on unprocessed lithium and other critical minerals, reported Reuters, citing the government.

The decision comes as the country looks to capitalise on the growing global demand for metals, which are used in clean energy technologies.

The Namibia Information Ministry was cited by the news agency as saying: “Cabinet approved the prohibition of the export of certain critical minerals such as unprocessed crushed lithium ore, cobalt, manganese, graphite and rare earth minerals.”

The ministry said exports would be allowed in only small quantities of the specified minerals, after the mines minister’s approval.

Namibia is said to hold significant lithium deposits that are vital for renewable energy storage. It also hosts rare earth minerals such as dysprosium and terbium, which are required for manufacturing permanent magnets utilised in electric vehicle batteries and wind turbines.

Last year, Namibia signed a provisional deal to supply rare earth minerals to the EU, which plans to cut reliance on China’s critical minerals supply.

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In May 2023, Andrada Mining started production of lithium concentrate in the form of a high-purity petalite concentrate at its Nai-Nais mine in Uis, Namibia.

The concentrate is due to be used to conduct test work with potential off-takers, including petalite conversion to lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide.

Andrada Mining CEO Anthony Viljoen said: “With the completion of the on-site pilot plant imminent, we intend to expedite bulk pilot test work on all our mineral licences. Simultaneously, we plan to increase pilot-scale production of lithium concentrate for testing with potential off-takers to achieve initial lithium sales.”