Ghana’s move to prioritize value addition to its natural resources is gaining significant momentum as the country is preparing to see the establishment of its first ever lithium refinery in the Western region. The Plan to build the refinery was revealed by Lithium Resources Ghana Limited at the Akwambo festival held at Ekumfi Assaman in the Ekumfi District of the Central Region. This announcement was made by a team from the company who made a presentation of some assorted items to the chiefs and people present at the celebration on 15th September 2023.
Lithium Resources Ghana Limited is a joint venture between UK-based CAA Mining limited and Empire Rare Earth and Metals Group Limited, and are currently exploring suitable and strategic location for the establishment of the refinery. The refinery, after completion will process raw lithium ore from Ghana and perhaps other African countries into high-quality lithium carbonate and hydroxide, which are essential components for batteries and electric vehicles.
Speaking at the festival, the Geographic Information System (GIS) and Data Manager of Lithium Resources Ghana Limited, Justice Amekudi, explained that the company’s strategy was to pursue an integrated approach of exploration, mining, and refining of lithium chemicals within Ghana. This project is clearly in line with the Government of Ghana’s new strategy and intent for critical minerals such as lithium. Additionally, Justice Amekudi noted that Lithium Resources Ghana Limited is currently carrying out reconnaissance and exploration of lithium in the country as part of feasibility studies to determine the commercial viability of the lithium deposits in the area.
Lithium is a vital component for the production of batteries, which are critical for electric vehicles, and it is also used in energy storage and consumer electronics. The establishment of a lithium refinery in Ghana could position the country as a major player in the global lithium economy, which is gaining significant attention due to the global drive towards green minerals, clean energy sources, and technologies that reduce carbon emissions.
Recent keynote addresses and interviews granted by the President of Ghana and the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources respectively, have clearly shown Ghana’s intent to benefit fully from its mineral value chain by prioritizing value addition, with processing and refining playing a major role.
Although commercial quantities of lithium were discovered by Atlantic lithium five years ago, no mining lease or authorization has been given for the company to begin extraction. Ghana is not in a hurry to mine and export immediately until the necessary policies and frameworks that will ensure the country benefits optimally from the mineral are complete.
The discovery of lithium deposit in Ghana is only the starting point of a complex supply chain with diverse opportunities that could aid the nation’s transformation process. For decades now, the critical downstream missing steps in the mineral value chain in Ghana and other African countries have been the processing and value addition of its various resources and commodities. In order to derive maximum value from their mineral resources, resource-rich countries on the continent must consider processing these minerals domestically, which will require political will to develop and implement appropriate policy frameworks as well as the necessary financial capital and investment.