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African Politicians are Giving the American Push a Cautious Welcome

This year’s Mining Indaba, which took place in Cape Town in February, attracted America’s largest delegation ever, including officials from the White House and departments of state, commerce and energy. Its size reflects America’s hunger for the 50 “critical minerals” it deems essential to reduce carbon emissions and create green jobs in the process. Though America’s search is global, Africa, home to around 30% of the world’s mineral resources, is a crucial part of the hunt. And by pledging to do mining differently—both from how China does it now and how the West has in the past—America says it will help transform African economies. American officials see Africa as helping to solve two problems. The first is a global shortfall in the minerals that will be needed if the world is to meet its climate goals. The second problem, at least for the West, is China’s outsized influence on supply chains. China refines 68% of the world’s nickel, 40% of copper, 59% of lithium and 73% of cobalt, according to a report in July by the Brookings Institution, an American think-tank.