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Africa’s role in America’s critical mineral strategy

During his recent five-day visit to South Africa, US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo underscored Africa’s significant contribution to America’s critical mineral strategy. Emphasizing Africa’s natural wealth, including crucial minerals like chromium, cobalt, copper, gold, iron, lithium, manganese, platinum, and uranium, Adeyemo stressed the continent’s pivotal role in both its own economic development and the global energy transition.

Speaking to US businesses in South Africa, Adeyemo emphasized the necessity of implementing incentives to foster growth in the mining sector within the country. Implicitly critiquing China’s dominant influence over Africa’s mineral production, Adeyemo highlighted the need for infrastructure development that benefits local economies rather than solely serving the interests of foreign entities. He emphasized the importance of comprehensive rail networks that facilitate economic growth beyond just mineral extraction.

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Moreover, Adeyemo stated that the United States is seeking to reduce China’s stronghold on battery metals and diminish Russia’s influence in the mineral market by turning to Africa for resources. This renewed attention from Washington comes amid efforts by Western governments to diversify their supply chains away from China and reduce dependency on Russian resources.

Acknowledging the US government’s efforts to bolster domestic mineral production under initiatives like the Inflation Reduction Act, Adeyemo underscored the significance of overseas resources, particularly in Africa. Given China’s extensive control over critical mineral supply chains, including major projects in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, Adeyemo stated that the US is collaborating with G7 allies to bridge the infrastructure gap and reduce dependency on Chinese resources.

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