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Africa, The Minerals Giant Playing Meagre Role

By:Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus
In the new wave of energy transition and fighting climate change, Africa has again come to the rescue of the world in providing the needed raw material.
The needed raw materials are such as lithium, copper, nickel, manganese, and cobalt, with African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Morocco, Madagascar, Gabonand Zimbabwe dominating.
Countries like Namibia and Ghana have made recent lithium discoveries as well.
The DRC produced about 70% of the global cobalt supply in 2020.
Cobalt is predominantly produced as a by-product from either copper or nickel mines.
After DRC, the Bou-Azzer mine in Morocco is the only primary-producing cobalt mine in the world with a capacity of about 3,000 metric tonnes.
a Swiss companyGlencore is the leading producer of cobalt, with about 31% of global capacity coming from its Katanga and Mutanda mines in the DRC.
China Molybdenum’s (CMOC) Tenke Fugurume mine in the DRC produced about 15,436 tonens of cobalt in 2020.
The Tenke Fugurume mine produced about 16,500 to 20,000 tons in 2021.
In April 2021, the Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) took a stake in China Molybdenum Co’s Kisanfu copper-cobalt mine in the DRC for $137.5 million.
In November 2022, China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL), the world’s largest battery maker, announced that it will buy a 25% stake in CMOC Group (previously known ad China Molybdenum), in the latest move by a battery producer to secure supply of key metals.
The company wants to process the ore at the nearby Tenke Fungurume mine.
The Kisanfu project is estimated to hold a resource of about 3.1 million tonnes of cobalt but is still under development, according to Bloomberg.
BloombergNEF forecasts new cobalt projects and discoveries coming online in Canada and Australia.
Despite this growth in cobalt mining in other jurisdictions, production from the DRC will still dominate the market, with 239,000 metric tonnes of global supply by 2030, found Bloomberg researchers.
DRC will continue to dominate due to the quality of its deposits and the lower cost of extraction and processing.
Another important mineral in greening the planet is manganese which is used in lithium-ion battery cathodes
South Africa and Gabon account for about 43% of global manganese ore production.
The information acquired by Bloomberg South Africa accounts for 20% of recoverable reserves, followed by Brazil, Ukraine, and Australia.
The research institution has added that manganese ore mining capacity will grow to 26.7 million tons in 2030 from about 22 million tonnes in 2020.
South Africa will add about only 800,000 tonnes of new capacity by 2030 due to companies holding back on new investment because of legacy challenges associated with rail capacity, electricity reliability and cost.
Eramet, a France-based mining and refinery company, is building a new mine close to the Moanda mine in Gabon, which will increase the mine’s annual capacity from 4 million tonnes to 7 million tonnes by 2023.
The Ambatovy mine in Madagascar can produce about 60,000 metric tonnes of refined nickel and 5,600 metric tonnes of refined cobalt.
Nickel is also produced in South Africa and Zimbabwe as by-products of platinum group metals (PGM), mainly from the Bushveld Complex and the Great Dyke mining regions, the Bloomberg researchers wrote.
There are more than 186 nickel mines in operation globally, of which 127 are in South Africa, according to GlobalData’s mines and projects database.
BloombergNEF projection shows that Africa could produce about 140,000 metric tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent by 2025, and the DRC’s Manono project could contribute about 14% of Africa’s upcoming capacity.
Another African country in the picture is Mali, the country Goulamina mine could produce about 55,660 metric tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent by 2025.
As for Zimbabwe, GloombergNEC stated that the country’s three mines will push that state to be a significant lithium producer by 2030.
Given the demand for electricity batteries, there is now a demand for precursors which can be shallowly explained as a combination of certain minerals is expected to grow significantly over the coming decades.
Producing precursors for nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) cathode chemistries requires three main raw materials – nickel sulphate, cobalt sulphate, and manganese sulphate.
All these minerals, Africa is dominating these minerals.
According to BloombergNEF, the precursor market is currently concentrated in China, but countries like Australia are looking to move downstream to produce precursor materials to complement their raw materials.
In 2020, Eurasian Resource Group (ERG) announced plans to build a nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) battery precursor plant to produce 90,000 metric tonnes of materials annually.
The company said it will source its cobalt from ERG’s Metakol RTR project in the DRC and nickel sulphate from third-party sources.
According to BloombergNEF researchers, overall cobalt demand from the lithium-ion industry will grow 1.5 times between 2021 and 2030.
Nickel, which is used in the cathode, will see demand grow to about 1.4 million metric tons by 2030, five times that of 2021.
Annual demand from the lithium-ion battery industry for copper will reach 3.9 million tons by 2030 while aluminium will reach 3.1 million tonnes, with market size for both metals growing six times over that period.
Thus, BloombergNEF researchers stated that African countries could play a key role in the lithium-ion battery supply chain.
As electric vehicles represent a $7 trillion market opportunity between today and 2030 and $46 trillion between today and 2050.
The opportunity for the continent is also found in the electrification of two-and three-wheelers.
According to the researchers, two-and three-wheeler sales are growing rapidly in countries such as India, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Email:

Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus

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