The global energy transition has driven interest in Africa’s critical mineral reserves, resulting in a surge in demand for resources essential to the development of solar photovoltaic technology, wind farms and electric vehicles. As the world’s largest economies vie for strategic control over critical mineral value chains, Africa – which is home to 30% of global mineral reserves – has seen an influx of investments, deals and cooperation agreements executed in the sector. Below are the top five critical mineral investments made on the continent in 2023.
Japan, UK make joint investments in African critical minerals
Last September, Japan and the UK announced plans to jointly invest in Africa’s critical minerals, with a view to stabilizing existing supply chains. The two countries will cooperate on developing mines in various African countries, while developing a framework for establishing economic and energy security. What’s more, Japan and the UK will acquire mining sites and develop local refining facilities, partnering with mineral-rich African nations to diversify supplies and build local processing capabilities.
South Africa’s Q Global Commodities invests US$1 billion
Independent commodity, logistics, and investment company, Q Global Commodities, partnered with investment fund manager, F9 Capital Management, last October to invest one billion dollars in the production of critical minerals in southern and eastern Africa. The new venture will target the production of lithium, copper and nickel – essential minerals to the energy transition – in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Namibia. The companies plan to develop plants and associated logistics infrastructure, with a view to publicly listing the new venture once the mines are operational.
Sinomine Resource Group acquires Bikita Lithium Mine in Zimbabwe
Last July, Chinese mining conglomerate, Sinomine Resource Group, completed a US$180-million acquisition of the Bikita Lithium Mine, the largest lithium mine in Zimbabwe. The company is set to develop a dual lithium processing plant at the mine, resulting in the production of up to 300,000 tons of spodumene concentrate – a pyroxene mineral consisting of lithium aluminum inosilicate – and 480,000 tons of petalite – a lithium aluminum phyllosilicate mineral – per year. The acquisition advances Zimbabwe’s efforts to consolidate its position as a regional lithium hub, as well as Chinese ambitions to develop new mining supply chains in Africa.
AfDB Joins Global Partners to accelerate Lobito Corridor Project
The African Development Bank signed an MOU last October to cooperate with Africa Finance Corporation, the European Commission and the governments of Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and the US in mobilizing resources for the implementation of the Lobito Corridor and Zambia-Lobito transit projects. The multilateral partnership will support the development of sustainable and resilient critical mineral value chains, facilitating the transport of copper and cobalt supplies from the Congo and Zambia to regional ports. The project is also significant as it underscores the US’ strategic interest in Africa’s critical minerals, with the country supporting the Corridor’s rail expansion with an initial US$250 million.
Atlantic Lithium secures mining lease for Ewoyaa Project in Ghana
Lithium exploration and production company, Atlantic Lithium, secured a 15-year exclusive mining lease last October for the development of Ghana’s first-ever lithium project: the Ewoyaa project. Financed by Australian mining company, Piedmont Lithium, and Ghana’s sovereign wealth fund, the Minerals Income Investment Fund, the project comprises a state-of-the-art, US$185-million processing plant. The plant is set to yield 2.7 million tons per year of spodumene concentrate, with a peak production of up to 2.6 million tons per year over a 12-year mine lifespan. Supporting Ghana’s efforts to establish itself as a leading critical minerals hub, the project is poised to become one of the top ten spodumene concentrate-producing mines globally.