Insights From the Africa Critical Minerals Summit 2023 Held in Cape Town

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The Africa Critical Mineral summit is where governments and the private sector will engage on a bilateral and multilateral level, to advance critical minerals production and processing, and plan strategic roadmaps for minerals and energy security.

The summit is the African critical minerals dealmaking space, standing at the intersection of energy and mining, linking global consumers and producers, and bringing capital and buyers to African projects. The African continent is a mosaic of mineral wealth. Every African country boasts deposits of at least one critical mineral, making the continent a global powerhouse in the critical minerals sector.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) commands the spotlight with 70% of the world’s cobalt production. Mozambique ranks as the world’s third-largest producer of graphite, while South Africa is a titan in Platinum Group Metals, accounting for nearly 75% of the global supply.

Zimbabwe, with the largest lithium reserves in Africa and the sixth globally, holds the potential to meet 20% of the world’s demand. These staggering figures underscore the continent’s pivotal role in the global minerals market. The summit is not just about showcasing Africa’s mineral wealth; it’s about translating this wealth into tangible economic growth.

The Critical Minerals Africa 2023 conference commenced in Cape Town on 17th – 19th October, marking the beginning with a high-level ministerial forum focused on the future development of African mineral resources. This event comes at a pivotal time as African mineral reserves are poised to play a crucial role in the global energy transition.

A unified front was presented by ministers from South Sudan and Malawi, along with ministry representatives from Tanzania and Zimbabwe. They shared transformative visions for their nations’ critical minerals sectors and strategies to attract international partnerships, aiming to solidify Africa’s position as a leading global mineral hub.

Hon. Martin Gama Abucha, South Sudan’s Minister of Mines, highlighted the essential role of critical minerals in the energy transition. “Over the past decade, we’ve been observing global trends. Without critical minerals, the energy transition is unattainable,” he said.

He also mentioned agreements with Russian and Chinese companies for mineral reserve studies and geological mapping, emphasizing the need for intra-African collaboration.

Leon Godza, Zimbabwe’s Director of Energy Minerals, stressed the importance of partnerships, particularly public-private collaborations, for accessing finance and ensuring transparency in this emerging sector.

The ministers underscored the urgency of establishing industries that add value to mining activities. Countries like Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have implemented bans on raw mineral exports to foster investment in domestic mineral processing. The panelists explored how local governments can incentivize investment throughout the mining value chain to stimulate job creation and skill development.

“We’re not just interested in exporting raw materials; we aim to sell finished products,” asserted Hon. Minister Abucha.

Hon. Dr. Steven L. Kiruswa, Tanzania’s Deputy Minister of Minerals, spoke about the discovery of high-grade nickel deposits in Kabanga, northwest Tanzania, and the search for partners with the expertise for more extensive exploration, emphasizing the strategic focus on critical minerals.

Also read, Tanzania’s Strategic Mineral Projects: A Resilient Economy and the Future of Critical Minerals.

The panel also recognized the importance of regional cooperation and leveraging synergies with neighboring countries for mutually beneficial trade and partnerships.

“We’re eager to learn from our more experienced counterparts in the industry,” said Hon. Monica Chang’anamuno, Malawi’s Minister of Mining. “African countries should approach critical minerals as a united bloc, allowing us to harness this opportunity. We’re looking to establish country-to-country agreements with other African nations with similar mineral resources.”

Dr. Kiruswa highlighted Tanzania’s role in regional value addition, mentioning the country’s gold refinery and the development of nickel and graphite refineries. “Other African countries can use Tanzania as a gateway for producing, processing, and adding value to these minerals. The impact of value addition is significant,” he concluded.

South Africa’s mineral sales in 2022 alone were a staggering $54 billion, a testament to the sector’s potential as a cornerstone of Africa’s economic prosperity. The summit serves as a platform to discuss strategies for leveraging these resources to fuel economic development, create jobs, and uplift communities.

Investment is the lifeblood of the critical minerals sector, and Africa is increasingly becoming an attractive destination for foreign investment, thanks to sweeping regulatory reforms. The summit delves into these reforms, highlighting the continent’s commitment to creating an investor-friendly environment. It’s a narrative of transformation, where regulatory changes are opening doors for investment and driving the sector forward.

In the pursuit of economic growth, sustainability remains a core commitment. The summit emphasizes the importance of environmentally responsible mining practices, ensuring that Africa’s mineral wealth is extracted in a way that preserves the environment and benefits local communities.

It’s about striking a balance between economic growth and environmental stewardship. Technology and innovation are critical drivers of the sector’s growth. The summit showcases cutting-edge technologies and innovative approaches in mineral exploration and extraction. It’s about harnessing technology to unlock the full potential of Africa’s mineral reserves efficiently and sustainably.

The summit lays the groundwork for this future, painting a picture of an Africa that is not just resource-rich but also a hub of innovation, sustainability, and economic growth. As the summit concludes, it leaves behind a vision of an Africa that is ready to claim its rightful place on the global stage, driving prosperity not just within its borders but across the world.

A skilled business writer who uses her background in business to explain tough ideas about economics and finance in easy-to-understand ways. She approches writing as a way to make a difference in the world, pushing for positive changes in society through her articles. Besides her work, Tumaini loves to read. She enjoys a variety of books, from imaginative novels to fact-filled history, which helps to give her writing fresh and interesting angles. Most of all, Tumaini believes in always learning and improving. Her tireless effort to know more and do better has earned her a respected place in the field of business journalism.

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