Africa, Europe must partner to deliver sustainable mining — Lands Minister

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has asked for a stronger partnership between mineral-producing African countries and their counterparts in the West to enhance the sustainable exploitation of mineral resources. 

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He said such partnerships must hinge on leveraging modern technologies and innovation to unlock the continent’s wealth in a mutually beneficial manner.

The Damongo Member of Parliament (MP) stressed that in an era when mineral-producing countries were transitioning from the outmoded practice of “dig and ship”, there was the need to prioritise the new method anchored on value addition and local participation.

Mr Jinapor stated this in his keynote address at this year’s “Mining on Top Africa Conference” in Paris, France, yesterday. The conference is a prestigious event that brings together ministers from various African countries and prominent industry stakeholders for a two-day summit focused on fostering partnerships between European and African nations for the sustainable exploration and development of mineral resources.

Sustainable development

Mr Jinapor said it was regrettable that although Africa was endowed with abundant mineral resources such as gold, bauxite, manganese and iron, the approach to the exploitation of those mineral resources had been done in a “dig and export” manner.

He said that approach had denied the continent the optimal benefits that would have been derived from building the value chain of the industry. The minister said the time had come for mineral-producing African countries to have their pound of flesh in the mining sector by building a relationship that guaranteed mutual benefit for both the Western world and Africa.

“The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a framework to address climate change, resource depletion and socioeconomic inequalities which threaten the well-being of our global community. Mutually beneficial mining partnerships between Europe and Africa are crucial to meeting these 2030 goals,” he said.

He added that through mutually beneficial partnerships, African countries and their counterparts in the West could tackle environmental degradation, social conflicts and economic inequalities while promoting efficiency and safety at the mine.

“Our Economic Partnership Agreements must, therefore, be designed not only to foster trade and investment but (to) promote value addition to the minerals we mine, create job opportunities for economic growth and tackle poverty,” he said.

Green minerals

Mr Jinapor also observed that in the context of the global climate crisis, it was important to implement environmentally friendly policies and interventions to protect investors and ensure sustainable exploitation of the minerals resources in Africa.

The participants

The participants

“Our aim is to ensure the retention of the full value chain of these critical minerals in the country, to the extent possible. Already, we have established through a public-private partnership, a 400-kilogramme capacity gold refinery, to refine the gold we produce,” he said.

The minister also said the government was using the green minerals policy to promote local content and local participation across the value chain of the country’s green minerals — from exploration, through mining to downstream production.

Climate change

Mr Jinapor urged countries to live up to the tenets of the Paris Agreement which enjoined the nations to commit resources to the fight against climate change.

“We must, therefore, use this opportunity to renew our commitment to tackling climate change through measures such as the green energy transition, which mining plays a central role in its implementation,” he said.

He further stressed the need for the transition to be fair, just, inclusive, and carry everyone along, saying that was the only way to promote sustainability in the exploitation and use of natural resource endowments. 

Collaboration

An expert from the Department of Critical Metals in France, Benjamin Gallezot, stressed that sustainability and value addition in mineral exploration were pressing issues that required immediate attention.

He expressed optimism, however, that the partnership between African countries and Europe would enable Africa to add significant value to its mineral resources. Mr Gallezot said it was important for African countries to prioritise energy transition while aligning with the Paris Agreement.

He added that stronger collaboration between Africa and Europe would be crucial in harnessing mineral resources to drive sustainable development and mitigate climate change.

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