CAPE TOWN (miningweekly.com) – The United States of America wants to support mineral producing countries to build enabling environments for investment throughout the critical minerals supply chain and not just focusing on extraction alone.
This was stated by US Under Secretary of State for economic growth, energy and environment Jose W Fernandez in his address to the Investing in African Minerals Indaba, which is being covered by Mining Weekly.
Refining, battery production and recycling, in addition to simply extraction, is the approach is being adopted by the Mineral Security Partnership (MSP) of which the US is part – along with Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the European Union and now also Italy, the latest country to join.
Being adopted by MSP members are environmental, social and governance, or ESG, standards.
The stated MSP goal is to ensure that critical minerals are being produced, processed, and recycled in a manner that supports the ability of countries to realise the full economic development benefit of their geological endowments.
Demand for critical minerals, which are essential for clean energy and other technologies, is expcted to expand significantly in the coming decades.
MSP members view transparent, open, predictable, secure, and sustainable supply chains for critical minerals as being vital to the successful deployment of these technologies at the speed and scale necessary to combat climate change effectively.
Last year’s MSP meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Week in New York was attended by Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zambia. The absence of South Africa is notable, given the overwhelming hosting by this country of platinum group metals required for fuel calls and green hydrogen, which provide emission-free heavy transport, shipping and widespread greening of hard-to-abate but crucial industrial activities.
MSP projects being considered must include processing beyond extraction, which sounds tailor-made for South Africa’s stated minerals beneficiation policy.
Also espoused by the MSP is the training of small-scale miners and other stakeholders in processing technologies that better protect the communities and the environment.
“In Africa, MSP is working with small-scale miners in the DRC, Ghana and Mali to remove toxic chemicals from the extractive process,” Fernandez reports.
Recycling being a mandatory part of MSP’s mission is vewed as being highly appropriate given the pace of envisaged adoption of clean energy and the ability of a well-organised circular economy to bolster supply.