Africa has some of largest deposits of rare earth minerals
South Africa hosted the world's biggest mining investment conference last week in Cape Town, at a time when global powers are competing for critical minerals that will likely power the transition to clean energy.
African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo have some of the largest deposits of these resources, such as cobalt, lithium and platinum.
But China has the highest levels of rare-earth deposits and currently dominates the supply chain as well as their refinement. Western nations want to reduce their reliance on the Asian giant.
The rare earth minerals are used in the manufacture of powerful magnets, which are used in electric vehicles, wind turbines, robotics, and many other applications for expanding the production of green technologies.
African governments are now trying to get the best deals for their people. Namibia's Mines Minister Tom Alweendo told Reuters at the Cape Town conference that his country is insisting that all lithium mined in Namibia has to be processed in the country.
The Steenkampskraal rare-earth mine in South Africa has been confirmed as one of the highest-grade deposits of rare earth minerals in the world. The country is responsible for about 70% of the global production of platinum.