JOHANNESBURG – African mining companies stand to win big from the growing lithium-ion battery market, says Kenneth Ozoemena, chief scientist and research group leader at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
A key component of lithium-ion batteries are metal oxides which range from aluminium to cobalt, manganese, nickel and titanium.
Ozoemena told delegates at the 2016 Power & Electricity World Africa conference that Africa’s abundance of such natural resources could prove a boon not only for lithium miners but for associated raw material oxides as well.
He said that South Africa’s status as the world’s top producer of manganese oxide and titanium oxide gives the country a competitive advantage. “If we can find a way of using manganese oxide to make lithium-ion batteries that would be a big winner,” he said. Titanium oxide, a component of lithium-titanite batteries, speeds up the recharging time of said batteries.
And with the battery said to be the next disruptive technology, after digital cameras and cellphones, he said the continent has the potential to build its own thriving battery industry.
“We are the greatest consumer of lithium-ion battery products yet we don’t have an industry that makes lithium-ion products… It doesn’t make sense,” he said referring to proliferation of cellphones across the continent.
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