States are seeking a bigger share of benefits from their mineral riches.
Standing before hundreds of mining investors and executives last week, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo issued a firm warning: stop expecting supercharged profits from Africa’s mineral riches.
It’s a theme that has simmered for years, as governments across the continent seek a bigger share of benefits from their natural resources. The debate ratcheted up in 2018, with countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia—the continent’s No. 1 and 2 copper producers—becoming increasingly insistent that producers must pay up.
There’s also been a backlash against the terms under which foreign companies agreed to invest in the first place—many mining codes, investment pacts and joint ventures were drawn up based on lower commodity prices and by previous regimes.
In his Cape Town speech, Akufo-Addo said African nations shouldn’t be expected to give special financial incentives to secure investment that producers wouldn’t get in other parts of the world.
For Congo and Zambia at least, geology is on the government’s side. The countries are home to some of the richest copper deposits at a time when the biggest miners are universally bullish on the metal and almost all are looking to expand their exposure. Congo’s resources of cobalt—a key ingredient in rechargeable batteries that’s found in the country alongside copper—are even rarer.