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China’s Global Power Play: Africa’s Minerals in the Crosshair

Daniel Kim Views  

EPA Yonhap News

As China solidifies its cooperative relationships with African nations, they are trying to secure a supply chain for crucial mineral supply networks. While major Western countries, including the United States, strive to reduce their dependence on China for critical minerals such as rare earth and cobalt, China has long been establishing roots and expanding its influence in the Dark Continent.

Recently, the United States suspended a two-year ban on the use of graphite from China in the final regulation on tax credits for electric vehicles under the Inflation Reduction Act. The U.S. aimed to exclude China from the global supply chain by restricting the use of Chinese parts and minerals. However, analysts point out that U.S. automakers have no alternatives, considering that up to 90% of the world’s graphite production is from China.

While China boasts the third-largest graphite reserves in the world, it also imports and processes large quantities of graphite from African countries such as Mozambique and Madagascar. The mining of critical minerals used in electric vehicle batteries, such as cobalt, nickel, lithium, and platinum, rapidly increases in Africa. Africa holds over 70% of the world’s cobalt, 90% of the platinum group, and over 50% of manganese and is a major supplier of critical minerals, including graphite, nickel, and lithium. Chinese companies that have entered Zimbabwe, Mali, Ethiopia, the Congo, and others are expected to mine more than triple the amount of lithium this year compared to last year.

China has been growing its monopoly over critical minerals through the BRI (the Silk Road on land and sea connecting China, Central Asia, and Europe) by expanding investment in infrastructure construction in developing countries, including Africa. China provides large-scale loans to resource-rich countries to help them build infrastructure and acquire resource development rights or raw materials. According to the Green Finance Development Center of Fudan University in China, China invested $21.7 billion in African BRI participating countries last year, a 114% increase from the previous year. During the same period, construction contracts signed with members of the BRI in Africa also surged by 47% of the prior year, and the total investment volume reached $21.7 billion, surpassing the Middle Eastern countries that attracted $15.8 billion in Chinese investment, making it the largest beneficiary of the BRI. As such, China has been making diplomatic efforts for decades to secure the Dark Continent. For instance, China’s foreign minister visited Africa as the first destination of the New Year, a tradition that has been upheld for 34 years since 1991.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

Comments1

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Comments1

  • Terry Staley USN retired

    So the DARK and the YELLOW continents meet.

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