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10 Jun 2024

9 African Countries with the Most Critical Minerals

9 African Countries with the Most Critical Minerals
Africa is home to 30% of the world’s critical minerals, essential for the clean energy transition and 4IR technologies. As a result, African nations are enhancing their respective exploration, production and infrastructure capabilities to expand critical mineral reserves and output, leveraging rising demand for transition minerals and metals.

South Africa – PGMs

South Africa possesses 80% of the world's platinum group metals (PGMs) reserves, with over 80 active projects and numerous exploration initiatives underway. The country contributes significantly to global PGM supply, accounting for 91% of the world’s platinum, 46% of yttrium, 22% of manganese, 35% of chromium and 16% of vanadium. PGMs are the largest contributor to the country’s mining sales and are used in the production of fuel cells for electric vehicles, along with hydrogen technologies, positioning South Africa as a key enabler of the global energy transition.

Morocco – Phosphate  

Morocco holds over 50 billion tons of phosphate reserves, representing 70% of the world’s total phosphate resources, which are crucial for battery and fertilizer production. Morocco produces over 37 million metric tons of the mineral annually and is a leading global exporter of fertilizers, supplying 54% of Africa’s fertilizer needs. Meanwhile, the mining sector contributes 10% to Morocco’s GDP, with the phosphate industry accounting for 90% of the country’s mining revenues.  

Democratic Republic of Congo – Cobalt  

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has the world’s largest cobalt reserves, with 6 million metric tons out of the global 11 million metric tons. In 2023, the DRC produced 170,000 metric tons of cobalt, with an expected increase to 225,000 metric tons by the end of 2024. Major mining companies – including Wanbao Mining, Shalina Resources, Gecamines, Glencore and Jinchuan Group – dominate the sector, while 12% of Congolese cobalt comes from artisanal and small-scale mining.

Guinea-Conakry – Bauxite

Guinea-Conakry holds 23% of the world’s bauxite reserves and ranks as the second-largest producer globally. In 2023, Guinea produced 123 million tons of bauxite, marking a 19% year-on-year increase since 2020. Bauxite is used to produce aluminum – a critical metal used in the production of solar panels. As a result, Guinea-Conakry’s bauxite industry is set to shape the global energy transition, with leading producer Société minière de Boké planning to invest $1 billion over the next five years to boost production, modernize infrastructure and establish in-country bauxite refining capacity.

Zimbabwe – Lithium

Zimbabwe has Africa’s largest lithium reserves – with an estimated 11 million tons – and is the world’s sixth-largest producer. In 2023, Zimbabwe produced 1,200 tons of lithium and is projected to account for 20% of the world’s lithium, if the country’s reserves are fully utilized. Key projects include the Arcadia, Bikita, Zulu and Kamativi lithium mines, with significant investments made by Chinese firms.

Zambia – Copper

Home to the mineral-rich Copperbelt region – which also stretches across the DRC – Zambia accounts for 4% of global copper production. The country is Africa’s second-largest producer after the DRC, producing 792,000 tons of copper in 2023. By 2030, Zambia has set a target to increase output to 3 million tons. Projects such as the 845-million-ton Kansanshi Mine and the 811-million-ton Sentinel Copper Mine will be vital for Zambia to meet its production target.

Mozambique and Tanzania – Graphite

Mozambique and Tanzania together hold 13% of the world’s graphite, a key input in battery manufacturing. Mozambique holds over 25 million tons of reserves and is the fifth-largest graphite producer globally, accounting for 14% of the world’s total production. Projects such as the Nicanda Hill, Caula Graphite, Ancuabe and Balama Central mines are driving sector expansion, and the country plans to increase output by 13% by 2026.

With 17 million tons of reserves, Tanzania is home to the world’s sixth-largest graphite reserves. Key projects in the country include the Bagamoyo, Bunyu, Chilalo, Epanko, Nachu and Lindi Jumbo mines, while active companies include Black Rock Mining, EcoGraf, Evolution Energy Minerals, Magnis Resources, Volt Resources and Walkabout Resources.

Gabon – Manganese

Gabon has the world’s second-largest manganese deposits and is the third-largest producer. Manganese is the country’s second-largest export product, with La Compagnie Minière de l'Ogooué, a subsidiary of French company ERAMET, representing the primary producer. Gabon produced 4.6 million metric tons of manganese in 2022, generating $1.83 billion in revenue. The country is leveraging its manganese industry to diversify its economy, capitalizing on growing demand for the mineral in the production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and steel for solar and wind farms.

The Critical Minerals Africa Summit is the largest gathering of critical mineral stakeholders in Africa. Taking place from November 6 – 7 in Cape Town, the event positions Africa as the primary investment destination for critical minerals. This year’s edition takes place under the theme Innovate, Enact, Invest in African Critical Minerals to Sustain Global Growth, connecting African mining projects and regulators with global investors and stakeholders to untap the full potential of the continent’s raw materials. Sponsors, exhibitors and delegates can learn more by contacting [email protected].