US and Saudi Arabia reportedly in talks to secure critical minerals from Africa
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the United States and Saudi Arabia are in talks to secure metals in Africa needed to help them with their energy transitions.
The report cites people familiar with the talks who told the Wall Street Journal that a state-backed Saudi venture would buy stakes in mining assets worth $15 billion in African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Namibia, which will permit U.S. companies to have rights to buy some of the production, the report added.
The United States is in a race to catch up with China for supplies of cobalt, lithium and other metals that are used in electric car batteries, laptops and smartphones.
Reuters reported that in a similar arrangement in July, Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Ma’aden) and the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) acquired 10 percent of Brazilian Vale’s base metal unit, while U.S. investment firm Engine No. 1 acquired 3 percent.
The newspaper said the PIF approached Congo in June about investing in cobalt, copper and tantalum in the country via its $3 billion joint venture with Ma’aden called Manara Minerals.
Manara is also focusing on iron ore, nickel and lithium.
The White House is seeking the financial backing of other sovereign-wealth funds in the region, but talks with Saudi Arabia have progressed the farthest, the Journal added.