A high-level panel at Critical Minerals Africa 2023 – organized by Energy Capital&Power (https://www.EnergyCapitalPower.com) – discussed how sustainable practices, localized supply chains and integrated mining operations will help secure critical minerals supplies of the future.
Moderated by Olimpia Pilch, Founder and COO of Critical Minerals International Alliance, the panel featured Kwasi Ampofo, Head of Metals and Mining, BloombergNEF; Alex Benkenstein, Head of the Climate and Natural Resources Programme, South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA); Dr. Marit Y. Kitaw, Interim Director, African Minerals Development Center (AMDC); Deshan Naido, Managing Director, AQORA; and Duma Sisulu, Co-Founder&Chief Analyst, Parime Battery Minerals.
The panel sought to explore the future of Africa’s minerals economy in light of growing demand for clean energy technologies and mounting pressure to decarbonize existing mining activities and maximize resource efficiency.
Speaking to the scope of demand growth for energy transition mineral and metals, Kwasi Ampofo noted: “We currently use 50 million metric tonnes of metals going into transition technologies and accompanying infrastructure. By 2050, if we reach the scenario based on current policies and economics, we will need about 140 million metric tonnes. If we reach the net-zero scenario, this goes up to 250 million metric tonnes.”
In evaluating the strength of Africa’s currently local and regional supply chains, panelists evaluated strategies that can be implemented to ensure their resilience and build more localized value chains, which can help achieve market stability.
“There’s a lot of discussion around demand, but we don’t see the same enthusiasm around funding supply. There is a shortfall in supply, which then spikes demand. Every time the price drops – for example, in nickel – there will be producers who are unable to match the current supply at that price. We will then have a continuation of these supercycles, which is not sustainable,” commented Duma Sisulu.
“If the critical minerals supply chain doesn’t change, then we have failed as Africans. We have the opportunity to do what the international oil giants did 50-60 years ago. We have the bargaining power for the deposits that sit on the continent,” said Deshan Naido.
According to the panel, the future of Africa’s critical minerals will involve mining companies diversifying their operations across multiple sectors, while fostering synergy among mining and energy sectors, owing to Africa’s acute energy deficit. Establishing value-added activities will also be essential to maximizing resource efficiency and ensuring the sustainability of the extractive sector.
“Africa does not have to accept its position within global supply chains… Mineral processing is energy intensive and requires a steady supply. This is not an absolute barrier – it can be rectified – which has been seen by the influx of investment by mining companies in South Africa to invest heavily in renewable energy technologies,” stated Alex Benkenstein.
“The only way to transform lives is to add value – job creation, skills transfer, economies of scale, transformation and growth. This gives us the opportunity to set the agenda — we need processing, refining and value addition,” emphasized Dr. Marit Y. Kitaw.
The Critical Minerals Africa 2023 summit is currently taking place from October 17-19 and serves to position Africa as the primary investment destination for critical minerals. The event is held alongside the African Energy Week 2023 conference (https://AECWeek.com/) on October 16-20, offering delegates access to the full scope of energy, mining and finance leaders in Cape Town.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Energy Capital&Power.