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Angola’s Mineral Renaissance: Beyond Oil And Diamonds

ANGOLA, the seventh-largest country in Africa, has long been synonymous with its substantial oil reserves, which have fuelled its economy for decades. However, a new chapter is unfolding in this Southern African nation as international attention shifts towards its untapped mineral wealth. While oil remains a cornerstone of Angola’s fiscal revenues, it is the allure of minerals like diamonds, copper, cobalt, and rare earths that is sparking renewed interest and investment.

‘The fascinating thing about Angola is, it has so many mineral deposits but so few mines,’ remarks Bryony Richards, an economic geologist at the University of Utah. ‘There are enormous swathes of the country that have no real information about them besides some basic geology maps,’ he tells analytics and consulting firm, GlobalData.

Angola’s diamond mining sector continues to thrive, even amidst fluctuations in global demand. With last year’s production reaching 9.7 million carats, the country anticipates a 50 percent increase in 2024, propelled by projects like Luele, operated by state-controlled miner Catoca. Luele stands as the country’s largest diamond mine, expected to yield approximately 628 million carats over the next six decades.


De Beers, a prominent player in the diamond industry, has also rekindled its presence in Angola, signing agreements for processing and exploration. This resurgence underscores Angola’s enduring significance in the global diamond market.

Beyond diamonds, Angola’s mineral landscape holds promise for rare earths, attracting investments from companies like Pensana and Ivanhoe. Pensana’s Longonjo project, located near the Lobito rail Corridor, aims to extract high-value rare earths like neodymium and praseodymium, crucial components in various modern technologies.

Ivanhoe, meanwhile, has secured exploration rights over vast swathes of Angola, signalling a growing interest in the country’s mineral potential. Despite being in its nascent stages, the rare earth sector presents Angola with an opportunity to diversify its economy and reduce reliance on traditional exports.

Angola’s efforts to attract foreign investments are bolstered by strategic partnerships with Western powers. Collaborations with entities like the US Geological Survey and the European Union aim to leverage scientific expertise and funding to map Angola’s mineral resources and improve infrastructure, such as the Lobito Corridor rail project.

Recent agreements, including a sustainable investment facilitation pact with the EU, highlight Angola’s commitment to fostering a conducive environment for foreign investment. President Joao Lourenco’s economic reforms and the National Development Plan further underscore Angola’s determination to embrace transparency and attract capital.

Despite the promise of Angola’s mineral wealth, significant challenges loom on the horizon. Lingering issues such as landmines from past conflicts, water scarcity, and corruption pose formidable obstacles to sustainable development. Addressing these challenges will require concerted efforts from both the government and international partners.

Saleem H Ali, chair of the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences at the University of Delaware, emphasises the importance of inclusive growth to avoid social unrest. Building trust between foreign investors and local communities is paramount to ensuring equitable development and long-term stability.

While hurdles abound, Angola’s mineral sector holds immense potential for growth and prosperity. By leveraging its abundant resources and fostering a conducive investment climate, Angola is poised to emerge as a significant player in the global mining industry. As international interest continues to grow, Angola’s journey towards economic diversification and sustainable development takes centre stage, promising a brighter future for its people and the nation as a whole.

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