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Africa’s Critical Minerals: Key to the Global Energy Transition

Africa is home to 30% of the world’s critical minerals, which are essential for the clean energy transition and advanced technologies. African nations are enhancing their exploration, production, and infrastructure capabilities to expand critical mineral reserves and output, leveraging rising demand for these essential resources.

South Africa – Platinum Group Metals (PGMs)

South Africa possesses 80% of the world’s platinum group metals (PGMs) reserves, with over 80 active projects and numerous exploration initiatives underway. The country significantly contributes to the global PGM supply, accounting for 91% of the world’s platinum, 46% of yttrium, 22% of manganese, 35% of chromium, and 16% of vanadium. PGMs are crucial for producing fuel cells for electric vehicles and hydrogen technologies, positioning South Africa as a key enabler of the global energy transition.

Morocco – Phosphate

Morocco holds over 50 billion tons of phosphate reserves, representing 70% of the world’s total phosphate resources. These reserves are critical for battery and fertilizer production. Morocco produces over 37 million metric tons of phosphate annually, making it a leading global exporter of fertilizers and supplying 54% of Africa’s fertilizer needs. The mining sector contributes 10% to Morocco’s GDP, with the phosphate industry accounting for 90% of the country’s mining revenues.

Democratic Republic of Congo – Cobalt

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has the world’s largest cobalt reserves, with 6 million metric tons out of the global 11 million metric tons. In 2023, the DRC produced 170,000 metric tons of cobalt, expected to increase to 225,000 metric tons by the end of 2024. Major mining companies, including Wanbao Mining, Shalina Resources, Gecamines, Glencore, and Jinchuan Group, dominate the sector, while 12% of Congolese cobalt comes from artisanal and small-scale mining.

Guinea-Conakry – Bauxite

Guinea-Conakry holds 23% of the world’s bauxite reserves and is the second-largest producer globally. In 2023, Guinea produced 123 million tons of bauxite, marking a 19% year-on-year increase since 2020. Bauxite is crucial for producing aluminum, used in solar panels. Guinea-Conakry’s bauxite industry is set to shape the global energy transition, with significant investments planned to boost production, modernize infrastructure, and establish in-country bauxite refining capacity.

Zimbabwe – Lithium

Zimbabwe has Africa’s largest lithium reserves, estimated at 11 million tons, and is the world’s sixth-largest producer. In 2023, Zimbabwe produced 1,200 tons of lithium and is projected to account for 20% of the world’s lithium if the country’s reserves are fully utilized. Key projects include the Arcadia, Bikita, Zulu, and Kamativi lithium mines, with significant investments from Chinese firms.

Zambia – Copper

Zambia, part of the mineral-rich Copperbelt region, is Africa’s second-largest copper producer after the DRC, producing 792,000 tons of copper in 2023. By 2030, Zambia aims to increase output to 3 million tons. Projects like the Kansanshi Mine and the Sentinel Copper Mine are vital for meeting production targets.

Mozambique and Tanzania – Graphite

Mozambique and Tanzania together hold 13% of the world’s graphite, a key input in battery manufacturing. Mozambique holds over 25 million tons of reserves and is the fifth-largest graphite producer globally, accounting for 14% of the world’s total production. Key projects include the Nicanda Hill, Caula Graphite, Ancuabe, and Balama Central mines. Tanzania holds 17 million tons of reserves, ranking as the world’s sixth-largest graphite producer. Significant projects include the Bagamoyo, Bunyu, Chilalo, and Lindi Jumbo mines.

Gabon – Manganese

Gabon has the world’s second-largest manganese deposits and is the third-largest producer. Manganese is Gabon’s second-largest export product. In 2022, Gabon produced 4.6 million metric tons of manganese, generating $1.83 billion in revenue. The country is leveraging its manganese industry to diversify its economy, capitalizing on growing demand for lithium-ion batteries and steel for solar and wind farms.

Africa’s rich deposits of critical minerals are pivotal for the global energy transition. By enhancing exploration, production, and infrastructure, African nations are poised to play a significant role in supplying the essential materials needed for clean energy technologies and sustainable development.

Centurion’s Energy Transition Centre: Facilitating Africa’s Mineral Potential

At Energy Transition Centre, we support the development and sustainable management of Africa’s critical minerals. Our advisory and legal services assist international clients in navigating the African market, identifying investment opportunities, and ensuring compliance with local regulations. Partner with us to leverage Africa’s critical minerals for a prosperous and sustainable future.

Shaping Africa’s Future at the Energy Transition Centre

As we embark on a critical journey towards a sustainable energy future, your involvement is crucial. The Energy Transition Centre at CLG is at the forefront of transforming Africa’s energy landscape, advocating for an energy mix, including renewable energy adoption to foster economic growth and improve quality of life. We invite you to join us in this essential mission. Whether you’re an industry expert, a policy maker, or a concerned citizen, your contribution can make a significant difference. For guidance, insights, or to share your ideas, feel free to contact the Energy Transition Centre today with questions:

Together, we can shape a brighter, more sustainable future.