Africa’s Integral Role in US Critical Mineral Strategy, According to Treasury’s Deputy

The Deputy Treasury Secretary of the United States, Wally Adeyemo, emphasized on Thursday the importance of Africa in diversifying the sources of battery metals and reducing reliance on China and Russia. Amid the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, Western nations are striving to lessen their dependency on Chinese supply chains and decrease ties with Russia.

While acknowledging domestic efforts to boost production, Adeyemo stressed the significance of international resources, stating, “Africa is going to play a huge role,” due to its abundant critical minerals. China has already made substantial investments in African projects, such as copper, cobalt, and lithium ventures, leveraging heavy state backing for infrastructure development.

To counterbalance China’s influence, the United States is collaborating with G7 allies to bridge infrastructure gaps and support private investment in Africa. Washington is also incentivizing domestic manufacturing to stimulate demand for critical minerals and create favorable market conditions. Adeyemo highlighted the importance of fair competition and mentioned discussions with European partners on trade actions to prevent market flooding by China.

In addressing Russia’s impact, Adeyemo noted South Africa’s potential to contribute, particularly in palladium production. Despite Russia’s dominant position in supplying palladium to the U.S., South Africa’s significant production capacity offers an alternative source. Adeyemo emphasized the need for government support for companies like Sibanye-Stillwater, which play a crucial role in sourcing and providing critical metals.