Arrests and attacks: tracking China’s illegal mining in African countries – by Smruthi Nadig (Mining Technology – December 6, 2023)

While Africa makes billions from Chinese investment in its mineral-rich countries, exploitation and illegal mining activities have become part of the deal.

China’s massive metals industry can only maintain its size using imported minerals, frequently from limited suppliers. As part of its Belt and Road Initiative, the country has actively invested in mining assets in Africa and Latin America, and is beginning to engage in overseas refining and downstream facilities.

Many countries have welcomed this with open arms. Africa’s mining and mineral extraction industries, especially in countries like Nigeria, Namibia and Ghana, have attracted billions of dollars from China, one of the continent’s biggest participants. The vast reserves of cobalt, lithium, copper, and other minerals essential to modern technology production have attracted investment and operations in several African countries.

But recently, some African countries and China have reportedly experienced tensions in the mining industry. China has been accused of operating illegal mining activities and funding militant groups, disrupting the otherwise stable bond built on mining investment.

Is China funding Nigerian militant groups?

British newspaper The Times reported in April that some Chinese mining firms had funded Nigerian militant groups to get access to the country’s mineral reserves. This raises the prospect of China indirectly funding terror in Nigeria, causing societal disruption for its own gain.

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