How America plans to break China’s grip on African minerals (The Economist – February 28, 2023)

Mining Indaba, Africa’s largest mining conference, is an anthropologist’s dream. There are the corporate chief executives: alpha males keen to cut big deals for big rocks. There are the engineers staffing stands in bright corporate attire, resembling darts teams on tour, and the colourful African delegations: Ghanaians draped in kente cloth or Congolese dandies with watches the size of clocks. They are offset by Chinese officials in dark suits and Saudis in white thawbs.

This year’s event, which took place in Cape Town in February, attracted America’s largest delegation ever, including officials from the White House and departments of state, commerce and energy. Its size reflects America’s hunger for the 50 “critical minerals” it deems essential to reduce carbon emissions and create green jobs in the process.

Though America’s search is global, Africa, home to around 30% of the world’s mineral resources, is a crucial part of the hunt. And by pledging to do mining differently—both in how China does it now and how the West has in the past—America says it will help transform African economies.

“The energy transition is an opportunity for an Africa transition,” says Amos Hochstein, Joe Biden’s envoy for all things concerning energy security.

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