The growth in the electric car market, which could result in 100 million or more vehicles on the roads globally by 2035, is likely to boost mining activities, an expert, Grain Malunga, has said.
Malunga’s sentiments have been corroborated by media reports.
Neodymium, a rare earth element, nickel and cobalt are increasingly on demand as cathode materials for batteries in electric vehicles.
Currently, Mkango Resources, a company, that is exploring rare earth elements in some parts of the country confirmed it had identified nickel and cobalt deposits at Chimimbe Hill, where the government gave the company an exploration licence.
Malunga said Malawi has potential to generate export revenue through graphite, rare earths, niobium and uranium.
He said real opportunities are emerging in the renewable energy sector and battery industry to support exploitation of minerals within three to five years.
“These projects can be developed within a short period if the government can be serious with timely conclusion of development agreements and timely enactment of the reviewed Mines and Minerals Bill that will put into effect the Mines Taxation Act.
“The nuclear sector has a lot of projects under way in China, India, America, Europe and Africa. These will require uranium as fuel and, therefore, Malawi stands to benefit and more opportunities are there to discover more deposits,” he said.
Malunga said new focus for exploration in the country should be on gold, copper, lithium, nickel, platinum, diamonds, gemstones and dimension stone.
“As the world evolves towards electric cars and renewable energy, the importance of rare earths, lithium and graphite to the global wind energy and battery industries will be a strong driver of mining investment in this country. United StatesPresident Donald Trump’s revolution of developing America’s steel industry will also require niobium as part of the steel alloys,” he said.
According to an article in The Times UK, Mkango Resources hopes to provide up to 17 rare earths, including neodymium.
The article says the company has carried out a pre-feasibility study at Songwe and Chimimbe and production could start in three years or more, in time for the expected rise in electric car production.
The Times further says there are very few advanced-stage rare earth projects outside China.
Given the huge demand coming through for electric vehicles, there will be need for a substantial source of rare earths from outside China, and Africa is widely seen as the most promising source of the materials.
Writing on the company’s website, Mkango Resources President, Alexander Lemon, said the company was delighted to have been granted the Chimimbe Hill nickel-cobalt exploration licence, which is consistent with their strategy to target raw materials and technologies geared to accelerating growth in the electric vehicle market.
“This new licence, when combined with the Songwe Hill rare earths project and our collaboration with Metalysis on neodymium alloys for permanent magnets, positions Mkango as a potential future supplier of the critical raw materials, used in both batteries and permanent magnet motors in electric vehicles,” Lemon said.