The main conference agenda of Critical Minerals Africa 2023 officially kicked off in Cape Town on Wednesday with a high-level ministerial forum that addressed the future of African mineral resource development, as African mineral reserves gear up to power a global energy transition.
Ministers from South Sudan and Malawi and ministry representatives from Tanzania and Zimbabwe united to outline transformative visions for their respective critical minerals sectors and efforts to attract foreign partnerships and cement the continent’s geopolitical position as a global minerals hub.
“In the last 10 years, we have been looking at where the world is moving. The energy transition will not be able to move forward without critical minerals,” stated Hon. Martin Gama Abucha, Minister of Mines of South Sudan. “We have signed a number of Memoranda of Understanding with Russian and Chinese companies to undertake studies and geological mapping of our mineral reserves. We are also looking for collaboration within Africa.”
“Partnerships are key in ensuring success in this fairly new sector. Specifically, public-private sector partnerships are able to access financing that’s not normally available to governments and are important in ensuring transparency,” noted Leon Godza, Director of Energy Minerals for the Ministry of Mines & Mining Development of Zimbabwe.
Africa’s mining ministers emphasized the urgency in establishing value-added industries to mining activities, with countries including Tanzania, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo having implemented raw mineral export bans to encourage investment in domestic mineral processing capabilities. Panelists discussed how local governments can incentivize investment across the entire mining value chain, with a view to stimulating job creation and skills development.
“We are not interested in selling raw material – we are interested in selling finished goods,” underscored Hon. Minister Abucha.
“In Kabanga in the northwest of Tanzania, we have found high-grade nickel deposits, but production has not yet started. We are seeking partners with the skills and knowledge to conduct deeper and wider exploration of the minerals we have, focusing strategically on critical minerals. The mineral supply chain could be at risk if we don’t find enough supplies,” stated Hon. Dr. Steven L. Kiruswa, Deputy Minister of Minerals of Tanzania.
Within local value addition and retention, the panel affirmed the need to strengthen regional cooperation and explored how African producers can leverage synergies with neighboring countries to establish mutually beneficial trade and partnerships.
“We are trying to learn as much as possible from our big brothers, who have been in the industry for a long time,” stated Hon. Monica Chang’anamuno, Minister of Mining of Malawi. “We need to have one voice – African countries should start approaching critical minerals as a bloc that can allow us to control the opportunity. We would like to partner and build country-to-country agreements with other African countries with the same minerals.”
“Tanzania has a gold refinery and is developing refineries for nickel and graphite. Other African countries can use Tanzania as their gateway for producing, processing and adding value to these minerals,”said Dr. Kiruswa. “When you have value addition in place, the multiplier effect is tremendous.”