Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, says the just transition into a low-carbon future will present new investment opportunities for the African continent.
Mantashe said this when he delivered a welcoming address at the Investing in African Mining Indaba at the Cape Town Convention Centre on Monday.
“The Just Transition to a low-carbon future will require ‘green metals’, which Africa has in abundance of untapped resources such as lithium, copper, cobalt, nickel, and zinc.
“There is no doubt that the transition will drive demand for these minerals,” he said.
Mantashe said the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia demonstrated this fact as they are both among the largest producers of copper and cobalt in the world.
The DRC accounts for about 70% of global cobalt output and half of the world reserves.
“In addition, global targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions entail transitioning away from pollution-emitting combustion engines to greener alternatives that utilise electric or hydrogen fuel cell technologies.
“The catalytic convertors that vehicle manufacturers use to reduce or neutralise harmful pollutants from exhaust emissions require PGMs [Platinum Group Metals].”
Mantashe said South Africa accounts for the largest percentage of the world’s Platinum Group Metal reserves, with Zimbabwe ranked third.
He said this would ensure that both countries play a crucial role in the world’s emerging energy transition.
“Minerals of the future that Africa has in abundance hold great potential for the continent.
“These minerals can be used in the development of the hydrogen economy. An exciting and significant story for our future to tell at this Indaba is that, on Friday, 6 May 2022, we unveiled a prototype of the world’s largest hydrogen-powered mine haul truck – nuGen – at the Anglo American Mogalakwena PGM mine in Limpopo.
“This is one of the first projects of South Africa’s Hydrogen Valley – an industrial cluster that brings various hydrogen applications to form an integrated hydrogen ecosystem.
“The launch of the hydrogen-powered mine haul truck is indeed a source of pride for the mining industry in the African continent,” he said.
Exploration to protect Africa from rising energy prices
Mantashe said this year’s mining indaba takes place against a backdrop of high energy prices, which pose a significant inflationary risk to the poor and emerging markets.
“Without any doubt, increased energy prices continue to be of great concern for our governments and investors alike.
“The African continent needs to build resilience against energy supply shocks through the exploration and development of our indigenous energy sources,” he said.
Africa is open for business
Mantashe said, meanwhile, that delegates attending the Mining Indaba, which attracts thousands of mining experts, investors, regulators and governments, must discuss how the continent can beneficiate its natural resources for the benefit of the current and future generations.
“Beneficiation will mean we are fully taking ownership of the value chain of our minerals across the spheres of upstream, midstream, and downstream mining economic activities, instead of exporting these to other countries. It is therefore critical that we address the issue of electricity pricing.
“We must ensure that electricity is affordable to the end user for beneficiation to happen in our continent.”