African nations discuss critical mineral resources strategy

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South Africa is working with other nations on the continent to develop the critical mineral resources strategy.

Minerals Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe launched the African Critical Minerals Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre earlier today.

The inaugural summit has brought together stakeholders, industry experts, policy makers and investors to explore opportunities from rare minerals in boosting developing economies. A gathering of minds on a shared vision to help foster regional cooperation and economic growth from a vast mineral resource positioned as critical for the continent’s emerging economies.

“First of all, in South Africa we are the largest manganese producer in the world, we also have sufficient reserves of everything ranging from cobalt, copper and more importantly platinum group metals. We have 85% of global reserves of platinum group metals, if you add Zimbabwe, we actually get to about 90%. Zimbabwe is also strong in lithium, if you move to Mozambique and Madagascar, they have the largest reserves of graphite. DRC produces 70% of global cobalt each year so you can even go to Mali, you will still find mineral resources, you go to Ghana, throughout the continent we have mineral resources that the world needs,” says Dr Clarence Tshitereke, CEO African Critical Minerals.

South Africa has been described as the most attractive destination for critical minerals as the leader in Africa’s energy transition. Mantashe has called for a clear roadmap on how to maximise the exploitation of the resources for value addition of developing economies.

“We’ve had minerals, the developed economies took our minerals for a song, developed themselves and we remain poor. That is history, that’s where we are now then it must tell us where we should move to, if it can’t, history has no use. However, we need to be frank in our discussions. This means, we must honestly engage with the notion of local beneficiation of critical minerals, and collectively answer the following questions: Who will do the beneficiation?” says Mantashe.

The participants in the sector deliberated on green energy and local beneficiation of critical minerals.

“In terms of strategies we have to really sit back and say how do we best make sure that as the continent we get the resources beneficiated in the continent so refining, making sure that we don’t just get the product and export it but you also refine it so that there is value add and beneficiation which is something we’ve been talking about as a country for a long time. Those are the areas across the value chain that we can look at and put in funding,” says Nolitha Fakude, President: Mineral Council of South Africa.

The first day of the summit also saw ministers from Zimbabwe, DRC and Namibia among those taking part in a panel discussion on the critical minerals strategic document.

“It’s very important that we meet and have a discussion, network, learn from one another, collaborate, coordinate and come up with strategies and policies that will talk about how to deal with these critical minerals. It’s an opportunity created by this demand, now that we have this opportunity and now that we know that Africa is short of employment, we need jobs in our countries. So, we must then make a decision on what do we do when we decide,” says Kornelia Shilunga, Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy: Namibia.

Day one of the inaugural critical minerals summit saw heightened calls for skills development and capacity building as the countries position Africa and developing economies to get the best out of the rare minerals with others believing that if gotten right citizens on the continent and the economies will be big winners.

Video: African Critical Minerals Summit launched at Sandton Convention Centre