Russian mercenaries exploit a war-torn African nation as they lead Putin’s fight in Ukraine – by Gabe Joselow (NBC News – June 1, 2023)

“I asked everyone for help. … Was I supposed to refuse the help from those who wanted to help us?” Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadéra tells NBC News.

BANGUI, Central African Republic — President Faustin-Archange Touadéra says he called in the Russians because he was stuck. It was 2016, soon after his election, and rebels had overrun swaths of the resource-rich country, which is among the world’s poorest nations. Former colonial power France announced it would withdraw its soldiers, the backbone of a United Nations force aimed at quelling the country’s civil war.

And Touadéra’s army and militia didn’t have enough weapons to defeat fighters threatening the capital, Bangui, because the Central African Republic was under a U.N. arms embargo put in place after a previous rebel takeover. So the former mathematics professor turned to Moscow.

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China’s Monopoly over Critical Minerals – by Katherine Wells (Georgetown Security Studies Review – June 1, 2023)

As part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has taken to investing in critical mineral mines globally. One of these investment hotspots is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In 2020, the DRC was the world’s largest cobalt miner, producing 41 of all cobalt resources.

Although not the largest producer of copper – Chile produces 27 percent of the global copper production – the DRC boasts the highest-quality copper reserves in the world, with mines estimated to contain copper with grades above 3 percent, 2.4 percent higher than the average supply globally. The mining industry is central to the DRC’s economy, making up over 90 percent of its exports.

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Harry Oppenheimer biography shows the South African mining magnate’s hand in economic policies – by Roger Southall (The Conversation – June 1, 2023)

In Harry Oppenheimer: Diamonds, Gold and Dynasty, his outstanding biography of the South African mining magnate who died in 2000, Michael Cardo shows that there is still mileage to be made in the study of dead white males who played a role in the making of South Africa. Based on a remarkable depth of research, it is written in an elegant style which makes for a delightfully easy read.

It is rendered the more impressive by the author’s deep conversance with the debates over the relationships between mining capital, Afrikaner nationalism and apartheid. Cardo is an opposition MP.

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The World Has a New No. 2 Copper Supplier – by Marcelo Rochabrun and Michael J. Kavanagh (Bloomberg News – June 1, 2023)

(Bloomberg) — The Democratic Republic of Congo displaced Peru as the second-biggest copper exporter last year, official data from the two countries show, in a changing of the guard for the mining industry.

While the numbers used in the chart below refer to shipments rather than production, the shift in positions underscores a couple of important trends. Firstly, an up-tick in social unrest and political uncertainties are constraining investment in South America, as more money flows into Africa’s rich ore-bodies.

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Protesters clash with soldiers at Ghana gold mining town (Al Jazeera – May 31, 2023)

The clashes come as hundreds remain trapped in mining pits, unable or unwilling to resurface out of fear of arrest.

Heavily armed soldiers have fired shots to disperse protesters in the gold mining town of Obuasi, in the Ashanti region of Ghana, amid an army crackdown on miners whom the government sees as illegal. Authorities arrested seven illegal miners on Monday for exiting a shaft belonging to one of the world’s largest gold miners, AngloGold, according to the company.

Reports then trickled in on Tuesday that hundreds of other miners were trapped underground. It was unclear whether those still underground were unable or reluctant to get out.

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[Mali] Goulamina: A lithium sleeping giant – by Tom Parker (Australian Resources and Investment – May 29, 2023)


Mali has long been a gold mining hotspot, but two companies are looking to establish the country’s critical minerals credentials with the Goulamina lithium mine.

Leo Lithium and Ganfeng Lithium Group – China’s largest lithium chemicals producer – are joint venture (JV) partners in the Goulamina lithium project, which is set to begin spodumene concentrate production in the second quarter of 2024 ramping up to a Stage 1 production capacity of 506,000 tonnes per annum (tpa).

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Namibia considers taking stakes in mining and petroleum companies – by Kaula Nhongo (Bloomberg News – May 29, 2023)

Namibia is considering taking minority stakes in mining and petroleum production companies amid increasing concerns over local ownership of valuable resources.

“We are making a case that local ownership must start with the state, which holds ownership of our natural resources,” Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo told lawmakers on Monday. “The proposed state ownership should take the form where the state owns a minimum equity percentage in all mining companies and petroleum production, for which it does not have to pay,” he said.

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Botswana president insists on bigger share of diamonds from De Beers venture (Reuters – May 25, 2023)

GABORONE, May 25 (Reuters) – Botswana will not back down on demands for a bigger share of rough diamonds from its joint venture with De Beers, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said on Thursday, upping the stakes as talks for a new sales deal appear to be stalling.

Botswana and De Beers mine the precious stones through their equally owned, 54-year-old mining venture, Debswana Diamond Co. The current diamond sales deal, in place since 2011, has been extended three times since 2020 but is set to expire next month.

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As Sudan’s latest conflict intensifies, artisanal gold miners are caught in the crosshairs – by Philip Obaji Jr. (Equal – May 24, 2023)

On 17 April 2023, just before sunset in al-Ibaidiya, a Sudanese mining town on the banks of the River Nile about 400 kilometres north of Khartoum, four soldiers stormed the home of Omar Sheriff and dragged him out of his house. For hours, according to Sheriff, two of the soldiers searched his home, while the others held him hostage outside of his compound.

“They [the soldiers] falsely accused me of working with Russian merchants to smuggle gold out of Sudan,” Sheriff tells Equal Times. “They were hoping to find documents relating to gold smuggling operations at my home, but they couldn’t find anything incriminating.”

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West Africa: Macron’s Visit to Mongolia Was Focused On Ensuring France’s Uranium Supply – by Jan Van Der Made (Radio France International/All – May 23, 2023)

Access to rare earth minerals and Russia’s war against Ukraine topped the agenda on French President Emmanuel Macron’s historic visit to Mongolia. But the joint declaration signed during the meeting also underlines France’s attempts to find an alternative uranium source for its nuclear reactors.

As it stands, France depends to a large extent on uranium sourced in West Africa. That supply chain, however, is under threat because of social and political unrest in the region. The 18-article joint declaration, which trumpets “strengthening political, economic, commercial and defence cooperation”, also notes that both countries will also cooperate in the energy sector.

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U.S. Apathy Paved the Way for China in Africa – by Howard W. French (Foreign Policy – May 22, 2023)


Despite a strong foothold during the Cold War, Washington has since fumbled on the continent.

In April 1997, toward the end of the protracted demise of the United States’ longtime Cold War client Mobutu Sese Seko, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, flew to the capital of what was then called Zaire to try to persuade the besieged dictator to step down.

As I stood outside the drawing room of the palace where Mobutu and Richardson met in the morning, an aide to Richardson sidled up to me and whispered an invitation in my ear. If I, as the New York Times bureau chief for the region, would like to fly with them to the southern city of Lubumbashi to meet Laurent Kabila, the rebel leader whose Rwanda-backed forces were taking over Zaire, I should walk toward Richardson’s parked motorcade and stand there and stand by, not saying a word to anyone.

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Sudan Crisis: A Cautionary Tale For Nigeria – by Abachi Ungbo (Independent Nigeria – May 22, 2023)

Sudan is profusely bleeding on the strength of its current painful war. It is such a great country with an interesting history. The country has a huge land mass – third in Africa. And it’s strategically located – close to the Red sea – “….a vital artery for the world economy.” It is a beneficiary of the famous Nile – making it fertile for agriculture so much so that it has attracted investments from the rich Arab countries.

It has abundant crude oil deposit until the secession of the South Sudan in 2011. Also, it’s very rich in natural resources. It has the third largest gold deposit in Africa – aside other minerals like uranium, manganese, chromite. Although it remains impoverished despite being so much blessed.

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S.Africa’s Tharisa driven to truck its chrome as rail fails (Reuters – May 19, 2023)

May 19 (Reuters) – South Africa’s rail freight problems mean Tharisa Plc (THST.L) has to truck 85% of its chrome export volumes to ports, the diversified miner’s CEO Phoevos Pouroulis said on Friday, adding he saw no prospect of a swift solution.

State-owned logistics utility Transnet is failing to meet demand for freight rail services because of a shortage of locomotives and spare parts, as well as cable theft and vandalism of its infrastructure.

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Business leaders fear that South Africa could become a failed state (The Economist – May 22, 2023)

CEOs have realised that running the country cannot be left to the ANC

Business leaders were ecstatic when Cyril Ramaphosa became South Africa’s president in 2018. Here was one of their own: a pragmatic tycoon to fix the incompetent kleptocracy of Jacob Zuma. Yet five years on, those running large businesses are exasperated.

Bosses from several different industries—such as Neal Froneman of Sibanye-Stillwater, a mining company; Daniel Mminele, the incoming chair of Nedbank; and Ralph Mupita, of mtn, a telecoms firm—have sounded the alarm. Could South Africa become a failed state?

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How Russia’s Wagner Group funds its role in Putin’s Ukraine war by plundering Africa’s resources – by Debora Patta and Sarah Carter (CBS News – May 16, 2023)

Garoua-Boulaï, Cameroon — Much of the bloodiest fighting since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine has been around the eastern city of Bakhmut, where thousands of ill-equipped Russian forces have died on the front lines since the end of last year. Many of those fighters have not been enlisted Russian soldiers, but mercenaries recruited and paid by the Wagner Group, a private army run by President Vladimir Putin’s long-time associate Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Prigozhin’s seemingly endless supply of hired guns in Ukraine requires deep pockets, and a CBS News investigation has found that he’s funding his operations in large part by putting his private army to work in Africa.

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