Ghana has granted a lithium mining license to Atlantic Lithium Ltd. as the West African nation positions itself to tap into the multibillion-dollar global industry.
The 15-year lease to Barari DV Ghana Ltd., a unit of the Sydney-based company, enables it to start constructing a lithium mine at a 42.6-kilometer site at Ewoyaa in the country’s Central Region, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources said in a statement on its website. It comes after almost six years of exploration that has discovered high-grade lithium in commercial quantities, it said.
The race for lithium has lured mining heavyweights, automakers and even oil majors as the world transitions to electric vehicles from fossil fuels. A projected shortfall from 2025 is driving the search for new supplies.
Half of the lithium from Ewoyaa is earmarked for a refinery of North Carolina-based Piedmont Lithium Ltd., which is the Australian firm’s second-largest shareholder and has agreed to provide most of the funds for building the mine. Atlantic Lithium aims to produce an annual average of 300,000 tons of spodumene concentrate over 12 years from the site. That would make it the world’s 10th-biggest project, according to the company.
“Government took a decision not to treat this mineral the same way the other minerals have been treated,” Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Samuel Jinapor said in the statement. “The lease we are signing today differs from our standard mining lease.”
The fiscal regime agreed between Africa’s biggest gold producer and Atlantic Lithium entails a 10% royalty rate and 13% free carried interest by the state, compared with the existing 5% and 10% respectively for other minerals. The company shall also pay 1% of its revenue into a community development fund.
Ghana’s sovereign wealth fund, the Minerals Income Investment Fund will invest to acquire 6% interest in the company’s Ghana portfolio and a 3.06% stake in Atlantic Lithium itself, Jinapor said. The company would also be required to list on the Ghana Stock Exchange, he said.