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The UK will make R20-million in funding available to help identify the most bankable opportunities for African countries to attract investment into the processing of critical minerals.

Boston Consulting Group will be carrying out the study, which should be completed by year-end.

The study will assess specific opportunities for in-country processing and mid-stream value addition and will focus on South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Morocco, Guinea, Ghana, Angola and Equatorial Guinea.

Besides outlining high-potential prospects, the report could also identify the key constraints to the projects proceeding and provide recommendations on how these could be addressed.

British High Commissioner to South Africa Antony Phillipson announced the commitment at the Critical Minerals Africa conference, taking place in Cape Town, where he reiterated the growing importance of cooperation on critical minerals for the economic partnership between South Africa and the UK.

In 2022, the two countries pledged to deepen their partnership on critical minerals during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State Visit to the UK, where it was agreed more should be done to promote the responsible exploration, development, production and processing of minerals in South Africa.

“African countries rightly have a high level of ambition for unlocking the value of their natural resources; and the UK will work with them in partnership to support delivery of their ambitions.

“We are committed to increasing our investment in the continent and strengthening the transparency and resilience of the supply chain for critical minerals – creating green jobs in Africa, while taking action on climate change,” Phillipson said.

He added that demand for critical minerals was expected to more than triple by 2030, reaching over 30-million tonnes as countries sought to meet net-zero commitments, while demand for certain categories of minerals, such as lithium used in battery electric vehicles, would grow at an even faster pace.

The announcement came ahead of the second UK-hosted African Investment Summit, which will take place in April 2024, and which is expected to deliver new investments in line the first Summit of 2020, where R150-billion-worth of new investments were announced.

Work on the study is scheduled to take place as from the week beginning on October 23 and a decision will be made early in the new year regarding the best way to communicate the results and potentially advance the prospects further.