Top treasury official stresses US ambitions for Africa’s metals

US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo

US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo

19th March 2024

By: Bloomberg


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US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo used a five-day trip to South Africa to advertise his country’s ambitions of securing supplies of the metals needed for the global energy transition – materials that abound in Africa.

Adeyemo, in a speech to US businesses active in the country, stressed that South Africa needs to put in place the right incentives to boost the mining industry. He also visited a mine owned by Sibanye-Stillwater, the South African precious and battery-metals miner that’s invested in a palladium operation in the US state of Montana.

In a later interview with Bloomberg, he took a veiled swipe at the approach by US geopolitical rival China, which has tied up much of Africa’s production of the metals needed for batteries for electric vehicles and renewable power plants.

The infrastructure needed to export minerals is often “built by the people who want to offtake those minerals for their sole benefit,” he said in an interview in Johannesburg’s office on March 15. “Railroads should not only go from a mine to a port, but should have other stops along the way that help drive a more robust economy.”

While the US has fallen behind China in the race for Africa’s resources, it has taken bold steps recently. The most notable of those was backing a $2.3-billion rail project linking the copperbelt of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to a port on Angola’s coast through a 2 600 km network.

In South Africa, the US International Development Finance Corp. has channeled $50-million into developing a rare-earths operation that aims to be a counterweight to China’s dominance of supply of the crucial minerals.

South Africa has the sixth-best supply of raw materials needed for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries with increasing supplies of nickel and the world’s largest reserves of manganese, key metals for battery manufacturing, according to a ranking by Bloomberg BNEF.

Edited by Bloomberg



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