The UK and South Africa have announced that they are forming a new partnership to work on the responsible and sustainable exploration of minerals in South Africa for use in clean energy technologies.
The UK government announced earlier this week that it would work with the Republic of South Africa to deepen cooperation on a range of mining and energy projects, including through regular ministerial and technical dialogues between the South African Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (RSA) and the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
South Africa is a major producer of large quantities of minerals used in clean technologies, including platinum, palladium and iridium for hydrogen production, and vanadium and manganese for battery storage.
Demand for minerals used in clean technologies is set to soar in recent years, raising concerns about the security of supply and the environmental impact of large-scale extraction.
Therefore, under the new partnership, the UK and South Africa commit to work together to promote responsible mineral exploration, development, production and processing in South Africa. The two governments say that by working together, they can help support investment in mineral exploration and production that adheres to high environmental standards, while expanding access to minerals critical to clean industrial and economic development and the global transition to clean energy.
They said promoting responsible mineral extraction is critical to the global transition to clean energy and ensuring the sustainability of the mining industry and supply chains through financing, high environmental, social and governance standards, health and safety, and through construction.highly skilled workforce
The two countries said they were seeking to collaborate on a range of clean technologies, including but not limited to battery storage, fuel cell technology, energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
“We want to work together to identify projects and related initiatives of mutual benefit,” they said in a statement.
In addition, they hope the partnership will also promote the participation of private sector companies in sustainable mining and support the flow of investment into the industry, creating and developing new clean jobs.
The two countries said they would encourage and support UK and South African companies to forge partnerships along the minerals and clean energy value chains to develop and strengthen business links for the benefit of both economies.
The announcement of the new partnership forms part of a wider updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Republic of South Africa and the UK Government, focusing on collaboration in science, technology, research and innovation announced earlier this week.
The new memorandum replaces and updates a previous agreement between the two countries signed in 1995 called the Memorandum of Understanding on Scientific Cooperation.
In the new memorandum of understanding, the two countries said they were “committed to expanding the scope of research and innovation cooperation by building productive partnerships for peaceful purposes and for mutual benefit”.
It follows South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s two-day official state visit to London this week.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met President Ramaphosa to discuss the next phase of the partnership between the two countries, which also includes the launch of the UK-South Africa Infrastructure Partnership to support South Africa’s economic growth through major infrastructure development, and Providing greater access to the UK Companies will invest in projects worth up to £5.37 billion over the next three years.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly welcomed the visit and news of the new MoU, highlighting opportunities to jointly explore green innovation.
“This week’s state visit, the first of His Majesty the King’s, is an excellent opportunity to celebrate our relationship, but also allows us to drive greater growth, create more opportunities for British and South African businesses, and further promote South Africa’s commitment to Green energy,” he said.