By Leon Louw

With a new emphasis on green energy, battery technology and Electric Vehicles (EV), Africa will be one of the major beneficiaries. The continent is replete with minerals and metals that will be in high demand in the future. The question is whether Africa is ready?

Mineral exploration in Africa is expected to increase in the future. Photo by flickr.com

Mineral exploration in Africa is expected to increase in the future. Photo by flickr.com

Several African leaders have been singing from the resource nationalisation hymn book again recently. At a time when commodity prices are at record highs, governments should not be fiddling with new taxes and legislation. What mining companies, and especially exploration companies need now, is certainty and stability. Even if the rules and regulations are flawed to some degree, if they are not changed drastically overnight; if licenses are not awarded swiftly and legally; and if there is no danger that licenses will be revoked or land expropriated, Africa’s geology will continue to attract foreign investment.

There has been a deluge of new early-stage exploration projects across Africa during the first three months of 2021. Minerals and metals like cobalt, tin, nickel, platinum group metals (PGM’s), rare earth elements, graphite and lithium are found in abundance in a range of countries from the north of Africa to the south. Add to that spectacular deposits of gold, iron ore, manganese, copper, potash, and other fertilisers, and it becomes clear that Africa’s geology can no longer be ignored. As 2021 enters only its fourth month, the list of new projects across Africa has suddenly become a lot longer than before. It is especially Canadian and Australian exploration companies that are falling over their feet to get awarded licenses in Africa early enough to ensure a foothold when the expected boom happens. Although it is exciting to see a renewed interest in African mining, it is disappointing that not more local African companies are taking advantage of the myriad of opportunities in their own backyard.

Africa has no shortage of world-class geologists, mining engineers or entrepreneurs, and we have to question the reasons why this highly competent workforce is not starting their own exploration and mining ventures. We need to establish why African exploration companies are not getting the support and funding that they need to compete with Canadian and Australian outfits. African countries need to develop and nurture their own homegrown talent to compete with foreign exploration companies on an equal footing. All indications are that the world is on the cusp of another super-cycle, and African companies need to establish themselves now, before the rush for battery metals gets underway.