To bypass China, Western companies are investing in facilities to process battery metals in countries such as Tanzania, Mauritius and South Africa
JOHANNESBURG—Pressure to create supply chains for electric-vehicle batteries that bypass China is prompting Western miners to do something they have long avoided: process their metals in Africa.
China dominates both the production and processing of critical minerals such as cobalt and lithium that are key to the energy transition. That has led to growing concerns among Western governments, including in Washington, about their dependence on Beijing.
Now, some Western companies and investors are starting to build processing plants in Africa so they can refine the raw materials they mine on the continent locally and export them directly to Europe and the U.S.
The investments show how Western executives have become more willing to swallow the risks associated with many African countries, including poor infrastructure, limited skilled labor and, in some places, a reputation for government corruption. By building processing facilities, companies are also meeting demands from African governments that have long called for more local processing for metals and minerals extracted from their soil.
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