By Tatenda MT
AFRICA’S mineral industry is the largest in the world.
Africa is the second largest continent, with 30 million square kilometres of land, which implies large quantities of resources.
For many African countries, mineral exploration and production constitute significant parts of their economies and are key to economic growth.
Africa is richly endowed with mineral reserves and ranks first or second in quantity of world reserves of bauxite, cobalt, industrial diamond, phosphate rock, platinum group metals, vermiculite and zirconium.
Africa has the world’s richest concentration of minerals and gems, with gold being the continent’s main mineral.
In South Africa, the Bushveld Complex, one of the largest masses of igneous rock on earth, contains major deposits of strategic metals such as platinum, chromium, and vanadium — metals that are indispensable in tool making and high-tech industrial processes. The Bushveld Complex is about two billion years old.
Another spectacular intrusion of magmatic rocks composed of olivine, augite and hypersthene occurred in the Archean Eon over 2,5 billion years ago in Zimbabwe.
Called the Great Dyke, it contains substantial deposits of chromium, asbestos and nickel.
Almost all the world’s chromium reserves are found in Africa.
Africa contains 40% of the world’s diamond reserves, which occur in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In South Africa, uranium is found side-by-side with gold, thus decreasing costs of production. Uranium deposits are also found in Niger, Gabon, DRC and Namibia. South Africa alone contains half of the world’s gold reserves. Gold deposits are also common in Zimbabwe, DRC and Ghana. Alluvial gold (eroded from soils and rock strata by rivers) can be found in Burundi, Ivory Coast and Gabon.
As for other minerals, half of the world’s cobalt is in DRC and Congolese cobalt-bearing geological formations extend to Zimbabwe.
One-quarter of the world’s aluminium ore is found in the coastal belt of West Africa stretching 1 920km from Guinea to Togo, with the largest reserves in Guinea. Major coal deposits exist in southern Africa, north Africa, DRC and Nigeria.
And north Africa is awash with petroleum reserves, particularly in Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia.
With all these resources, Africa cannot afford to be poor. It is high time Africa leveraged on its vast natural resources to jumpstart its economies.