HomeBattery metalsAfrica Down Under EXCLUSIVE: Africa must capitalise on critical minerals value chain

Africa Down Under EXCLUSIVE: Africa must capitalise on critical minerals value chain

Speaking on day one of the 21st annual Africa Down Under conference, Mzila Mthenjane, CEO of the Minerals Council South Africa said that opportunities for mining to capture more from international trade through value addition and beneficiation remain significant.

“If we can tap into more points along the supply chain with other industries, such as the automotive and the tech-based manufacturing industries, we should utilise metals and minerals, production processes, then we could begin to see Africa benefit more broadly from trade,” said Mthenjane.

According to Mthenjane, there are currently only a few countries dominating the critical minerals value chain. In Africa, there is asymmetry between mineral endowment production and economic benefit and there is potential for more production to come out of the continent. “Africa is richly endowed with minerals and should surely account for the largest share of global mineral production,” he said.

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“Global players should be cognisant of how they could benefit if they realign and prioritise Africa. In terms of asymmetry, African countries account for a greater share of resources, important minerals, and metals. Huge opportunity for Africa lies in capitalising on these resources, and the continent could reap the benefits for years to come.

“Part of the reason Africa is not realising some of its potential is attributable to the lack of exploration on the continent. But I might hasten to add that this is not due to a shortage of global talent. In South Africa, despite aspirations in 2022 in terms of exploration, our performance was lagging in this regard. Suffice it to say, more exploration spend on the continent could be a game changer for the industry, and help realise the benefits from all minerals,” said Mthenjane.

He stressed that good governance remains a recipe for beneficial mining and could be the basis for the country’s development. Mthenjane cited South Africa as one example of the rural, almost subsistence ‘agrarian’ model, turned industrialised economy. “The mineral potential of South Africa remains high, in addition to other benefits, such as a sophisticated financial sector and capital markets, as well as advanced infrastructure,” he said.

“Having taken over the leadership of the Minerals Council, I am very confident with what I see in terms of the partnership between business and government – and particularly with the mining industry playing a leading role. The extensive nature of the partnership between business and government and the involvement of the most senior leaders in the mining sector is also apparent.

“The mining industry in Africa will be the catalyst and will also provide an ongoing critical role in an ailing economy in need of development, diversification and social development, and progress towards a low carbon future.

“Therefore, as an industry, we must remain resilient in the face of this challenge, provide opportunities to build the necessary partnerships and encourage collaboration with governments, communities, labour, employees and all our stakeholders who are responsible and accountable for the realisation of a better life for all,” concluded Mthenjane.