The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) wants to position itself as a key source of metals in the transition to green energy, which means new explorations for nickel and chromium, according to President Félix Tshisekedi.
Exploration for these two minerals will begin “in the next few days” in southern DRC, in the diamond-rich Kasai region, Tshisekedi said Tuesday (February 7th) at the Investing in African Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town, South Africa. The country is also looking for partners to invest in the processing of cobalt, tantalum, tin and lithium.
The transition to clean energy technologies is a huge driver for metals used in batteries, solar components, wind turbines and electric vehicles. Meanwhile, mining production has been constrained, which has helped push up commodity prices. Copper on the London Metal Exchange is up over 40% since the end of 2019, while nickel has jumped over 90%.
Only 19% of the country has been properly explored
The DRC provides more than two-thirds of cobalt, a key battery mineral, and is tied with Peru as the world’s second-largest copper producer, according to the US Geological Survey. It also has large deposits of other minerals, including lithium, graphite and manganese. But only 19% of the country – Africa’s second largest by land area – has been properly explored, Tshisekedi said.
“The objective is to discover new deposits that can be the subject of calls for tenders, with a view to concluding mutually profitable public-private partnerships”, Mr. Tshisekedi said, according to an emailed transcript of his remarks. The country’s recently established national geological survey will oversee exploration, he said.
The president hopes to attract new investment by improving the regulatory environment and creating incentives such as a special economic zone around lithium deposits in southeastern DRC, he added.