THE economics, viability and sustainability of Africa’s critical minerals and rare earth element (REE) projects were in focus at the Critical Minerals Africa 2023 summit on Wednesday, exploring how investors can take advantage of the mining boom associated with energy transition minerals and how African governments can attract new project investments.
Under the theme, “Investing in African Critical Minerals and Rare Earths Projects Today,” an industry-focused panel comprised Jude Kearney, Chair of the sub-Saharan Africa Committee for the Export-Import Bank of the United States and Managing Partner of ASAFO & Co., US Office; Nick Mitchell, COO of Renergen; Patricia Rodrigues, Associate Director of Control Risks; and Ibitola Ukabam, Associate Vice President: Natural Resources (Oil & Gas and Mining) for Africa Finance Corporation. The panel was moderated by Olivier Barbeau, Managing Partner and EMR Leader for Africa, Moore Global.
The panel discussed how Africa’s minerals can serve to meet shifting supply and demand curves and contribute to the development of clean energy technologies, as well as the key criteria against which mining investors are measuring their decisions.
“Critical minerals aren’t just important for the electric vehicle industry, but also for national and international security. The US wants to play a very competitive role, not for competitions sake, but for the important value that these products play in our industry and in our national security,” commented Jude Kearney.
“We are seeing government parties more interested in having reliable data on the quantities of each mineral. More attention is being paid to what the supply chain will look like – it’s not enough to say that a resource exists,” said Ibitola Ukabam.
Panelists identified key challenges associated with investing in Africa’s critical minerals sector and how effective fiscal incentives and policies can be leveraged to attract and retain investment in the sector, as well as mitigate perceived risk.
“On the risk side, we are seeing from the private sector a desire for stability. It’s getting harder to sell Africa as a stable investment destination,” added Patricia Rodrigues.
“Governments have a role to play, as they need to make sure they can monetize the commodity for taxes and deployment of infrastructure back into their countries. There needs to be an equitable share, not only for the government, but also for the investor who is taking early-stage risk capital and allocating it to projects in those territories,” stated Nick Mitchell. “There are more projects than available capital. The government’s role is to streamline policy and give investors regulatory certainty. That goes a long way in unlocking barriers for private sector investment.”
The Critical Minerals Africa Summit is organized by Energy Capital & Power.
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