U.S. and Saudi Arabia in discussions to secure African metals

The United States and Saudi Arabia are engaging in discussions to secure access to metals in Africa that are essential for supporting their energy transition efforts, the WSJ reported on Sunday, citing people with knowledge of the talks.

A Saudi government-supported venture is contemplating the acquisition of ownership stakes in mining assets valued at $15 billion across African nations, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, and Namibia.

This move would enable U.S. companies to obtain the rights to purchase a portion of the production, according to the report.

The United States is currently in a competition with China to secure supplies of cobalt, lithium, and other metals that are essential for electric car batteries, as well as for laptops and smartphones.

In a comparable arrangement in July, Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma’aden) and the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) jointly acquired a 10% stake in Brazilian Vale’s base metal unit. Additionally, U.S. investment firm Engine No. 1 acquired a 3% stake.

The newspaper reported that the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) initiated discussions with Congo in June regarding potential investments in cobalt, copper, and tantalum within the country.

This would be facilitated through their $3 billion joint venture with Ma’aden, known as Manara Minerals.

Manara is also focusing on iron ore, nickel and lithium.

The White House is actively pursuing financial support from other sovereign-wealth funds in the region; however, discussions with Saudi Arabia have advanced the most, according to media reports.

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