img
SarWatch Writer
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM CONGOLESE EXPERTS IN SUPPORT OF THE INITIATIVE OF GOVERNMENT OF THE DRC IN RELATION TO THE LOCAL MANUFACTURING OF BATTERIES FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Introduction                            

The Experts’[1] Round Table to support the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) initiative for the manufacture of batteries for electric cars, was held in Kinshasa by Southern Africa Resource Watch[2] (SARW), on 28 February 2022.

In his welcoming address to the experts, Dr Claude Kabemba, SARW’s Executive Director underscored that in the face of the challenges of climate change, DRC is a strategic country. As such, it must be able to take advantage of the green economy market that is offered to it. It is in this vein that the context for the holding of this Round Table was given by Mr. Georges Bokondu, the Programs Manager for SARW/DRC. After presenting the context of the 5th edition of AMI organized by SARW in October 2021, he recalled the Congolese Government’s conference, DRC-Africa Business Forum, organized in Kinshasa in November of the same year 2021 on the need for manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles (BVE) in the DRC. Following the outcome of the DRC-Business Forum, the Congolese government signed a number of commitments with international partners to enable it to set up one or more BVE manufacturing plants locally in view of the opportunities offered to the country.

Thus, the objective assigned to that brainstorming Round Table was to formulate concrete proposals to submit to the government in order to enable it to successfully carry through the project of manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles. The reflections that were carried out by these experts not only described the country context in this area but also identified the challenges to be faced by the Congolese Government and formulated proposals.

 General context

The energy transition gives the DRC a great opportunity to participate in the production of batteries for electric cars and to no longer accept being an exporter of critical materials for Africa. This approach is also justified by the fact that Africa is the continent most affected by climate change despite being the least polluting. If Africa is more concerned about climate change, it is in the continent’s best interest to consider participating in the value chain of BVE manufacturing to meet the challenge facing the continent.

The DRC has, according to the experts at the Round Table, the mineral resources necessary to enable it to carry out the project on the local manufacture of electric batteries: lithium, cobalt, nickel, aluminum and manganese. On top of those metals directly concerned with the production of electric batteries, it would be important to extend the list to others whose demand is strongly driven by the growth of the electric mobility industry and for which the DRC can, in a near future, claim a leading position in the world of energy transition. This is particularly copper for which the electric vehicle uses a quota three to four times higher than its ‘’ancestor’’ with a heat engine, and rare earth, some of which are in high demand following their use in the materials for the manufacturing of engines for electric cars.

The DRC has, according to the experts at the Round Table, the mineral resources necessary to enable it to carry out the project on the local manufacture of electric batteries: lithium, cobalt, nickel, aluminum and manganese. 

As for cobalt and copper, they are already being produced and the country is today the major supplier of cobalt in the world with more than 70% of the market share. The exploitation of manganese, formerly ensured by Kisenge-Manganese, a state-owned company, which became SCMK-M, and put on hold at the end of the 1970s following the disruption of traffic on the railroad section Dilolo railway -Lobito, made unavailable due to the civil war in Angola, could soon resume if the technical issues relating to the rehabilitation of the Kolwezi-Dilolo railway section are resolved.

As for nickel and aluminum, their deposits are known and located respectively in Kasaï Central and Kongo Central. They must still be documented, and their feasibility remains to be realized. As for the rare earth, they are found in the DRC in an ore called “monazite”, which is found in association with cassiterite in some well-known areas in the Grand Kivu. Monazite was exported by the defunct SOMINKI until the early 1990s. Its export has just been relaunched with a first test batch of 10 tonnes, supplied by a Canadian company from Goma. Monazite from the DRC is especially sought after for its high neodymium content, which is one of the main components of the materials used in the manufacture of engines for electric vehicles.

 Challenges

Despite the abundant strategic resources, DRC has many challenges to overcome to achieve the installation of a BVE industry. It is huge, poor and without basic infrastructures (railways, ports, roads, etc.) and energy.

The first challenge is the one related to the infrastructures for the production and transport of electrical energy, coupled with that of the communication channels. If the mineral resources are abundant and exist, the energy to ensure their extraction and transformation is often lacking on the one hand, and the internal road networks, railways and waterways to transport them to the manufacturing plants and then to ensure their transport and distribution to potential consumers, are either in an advanced state of disrepair or non-existent.

The second challenge is related to governance, serious efforts are needed to improve the business climate in a country undermined by corruption (the said efforts are underway) and which are not visible yet in terms of transparency in the extractive sector. The third challenge is the one linked to the revival of the geological exploration and technological research with a view, on the one hand, to increasing and consolidating the resources and reserves of these strategic substances and, on the other hand, to position the country in the world of green technology development. According to some experts, the world demand for cobalt should increase from 136,100 tonnes in 2020 to 280,000 tonnes in 2030 and we will have to factor in the battery recycling policy, which is developing in industrialized countries, in particular in Europe and in North America.

The 4th challenge is the researchers’ trend on the decrease in the cobalt share in NMC cathodes (nickel, cobalt, manganese) which went from 30% (NMC523) to 20% (NMC622) and 10% (NMC811). Research and development work is ongoing to bring this percentage down to 5% (NMC955).

All options are analyzed to minimize the importance of cobalt in the manufacture of electric batteries. It is therefore important for the DRC to accelerate its initiatives in order to take advantage of the current situation on the international market. DRC’s position is in the best position. It only takes a little effort and political will to enable it to pivot towards sustainable development in a short time given its natural resource potential.

At the regional level, the willingness of the African Union (AU) to respond to the challenge in the mining sector in Africa was reflected in the adoption of the African Mining Vision (AMV) in 2009 by the Heads of State and Governments. AMV has already seen the start of its application with support from the Economic Commission for Africa. A number of countries have already brought their legislation into line with the AMV.

One of the pillars of the AMV is the transformation of minerals locally. Through AMV, Africa seeks to retain the bulk of the value chain on the continent. AMV also plans to create upstream and downstream connections with collateral links to ensure the diversification of economic activities from the mining sector. The manufacture of BVE is a clear expression of the implementation of AMV in the DRC.

 

 

Experts’ proposals to set up a Battery Industry

The experts proposed several actions the Government can take now (because there is no time to waste) to ensure the success of the local BVE manufacturing initiative. Those actions are as follows:

  1. Establishment of a technical unit composed of experts responsible for reflecting on the materialization of the initiative to set up electric battery manufacturing plants in the DRC. The mission of this unit would be to support political decision-makers in the implementation of the roadmap that should lead to the establishment of factories in the DRC.
  2. The Congolese Government is called upon to make clear choices:
  • To position itself in this sector as a State-entrepreneur where it would itself take the initiative by creating its own chains to produce materials and the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles, even if it means associating with private partners who would remain in the minority in the share capital structure.
  • To restrict its role to being a State-regulator, which would leave it up to the private sector to organize all or part of the sector’s value chain, even if it means supporting them in particular by creating economic zones specially equipped in terms of infrastructure for this purpose.
  1. The Congolese Government must immediately carry out the geological research of the resources essential for the manufacture of BVE. This is a prerequisite to be achieved, especially since the Congolese State no longer owns most of the metals used in the manufacture of the BVEs currently in operation in the DRC. Having sold the mining permits held by the companies in the State Portfolio, these resources are the property of the private companies which exploit them and which can thus sell them freely to any customer, because the Congolese State is not in the production share to reserve any right on these resources. This obliges it to invest in the exploratory research of the resources essential to its initiative relating to the manufacture of the BVE or to finance the companies of the State Portfolio which still have these resources in their various mining perimeters which were not subjected to any transfer. This exercise will also help the Congolese State not only to control its reserves of strategic resources, but also and above all to certify them.

Beyond the geological studies, to discover other mineral reserves which will be under State control:

  • The Government must instruct the mining companies in the State Portfolio to present the stock-taking of their mining assets (with minerals that contribute to the electric mobility industry (IME)) that can be affected in this manufacturing initiative BVEs;
  • The Government must organize consultations with private companies, producers of the metals used in the manufacture of BVEs, to involve them in the initiative to set up BVE factories in the DRC. This involvement can take the form of public-private partnerships in the establishment of the IME (electric mobility industry) or the granting of facilities to private companies to encourage them to invest in the establishment of BVE manufacturing plants in the DRC; and
  • The Government must activate article 266 of the Mining Code which provides that “The holder is authorized to export and market his production at the market price, subject to the right for the State to determine the quota of production to be exported according to the needs of local industry. Pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 2 of article 266 of the Mining Code, article 559 ter of the Mining Regulations provides that the portion of the production the holder must sell to the national industry is determined by inter-ministerial decree from the Ministers of Mines and Industry, considering the needs expressed in the Strategic Plan for the Industrialization of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  1. The Government must proceed with the identification of Congolese skills and the creation of a data bank of the necessary expertise throughout the value chain involved in the manufacture of BVEs. The development of national skills in this area, through national capacity-building, training and technology transfer by DRC partners is a necessity.
  2. The Government must set up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for the BVEs and provide it with substantial infrastructure (roads, railways, energy and port). It must be able to attract investors to this SEZ in the various fields that go into the manufacture of BVEs.
  3. DRC should place the BVEs manufacturing initiative in a regional context. The regional economic integration of the project is essential so as to pool forces with other countries such as Zambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to achieve the objective of local manufacturing of BVEs as quickly as possible.
  4. While its main objective is the manufacture of BVEs, the Government’s approach must be pragmatic. Start modestly with activities for which it has the capacity, in particular the production of BVEs components DRC can export to the rest of the world through private companies. The State must also set up an institution to control the quality of local products to make them competitive on the international market.

Conclusion

To win this bet, the Government must improve the business climate, in particular by securing private investments intended for this project and others. It must improve collaboration between the institutions, i.e. the maintenance of unity of command within the Government. It must also avoid political interference in the mining sector to encourage and incentivize foreign investment. Finally, the Government must fight against the bad campaign fueled by the supply chain (traceability) of Congolese minerals. In short, the Congolese authorities must work to improve the country’s  perception abroad.

Download: REPORT OF THE ROUND TABLE HELD BY EXPERTS IN SUPPORT OF THE DRC

[1] Dr Claude Kabemba, Prof. Donat Kampata, Prof. Arthur Kaniki, Paulin Mawaya, Jacques-Prosper Ngandu, Léonide Mupepele, Mr Georges Bokondu, Mr Fabien Mayani, Prof. Dieudonné Tambwe, Jean Jacques Kayembe, Marie-Anne Mazangu, Pascal Kambale, Gilbert Kabwe Kazadi, Kaningu Shemlwango, Onya Shongo and Joseph Cihunda.

[2] SARW is a pan-African organization that works in the governance of natural resources, with offices in South Africa, DRC, Zambia and Zimbabwe

img
PROPOSITIONS DES EXPERTS CONGOLAIS EN APPUI A L’INITIATIVE DU GOUVERNEMENT DE LA RDC RELATIVE A LA FABRICATION LOCALE DES BATTERIES POUR LES VEHICULES ELECTRIQUES

Introduction La Table ronde des experts[1] pour appuyer l’initiative du Gouvernement de la République Démocratique du Congo (RDC) dans la fabrication des batteries pour...

+ Read more
Press Release: Widows and ex-mine workers appeal to the South African government to commit to the portability of social security benefits

The High-Level Meeting on Unclaimed Benefits from the mining sector took place in Johannesburg from 16-17 March 2022 to find solutions to the question of...

+ Read more
Chinese syndicate captures DRC Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining

China’s presence in Africa has been praised and criticised. The Chinese government and its state-owned companies have established themselves as strategic partners for Africa’s development....

+ Read more
Press Release: Increasing Mining Activities in South Africa Must Not Happen at the Expense of Mining Communities’ Rights to Live in a Clean Environment

During the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week, President Ramaphosa informed South African citizens of government’s intention to increase the mining of critical...

+ Read more
PRESS RELEASE: SARW and Bench Marks Foundation Stand with Lawyers and Activists in SLAPP Suit before the Constitutional Court of South Africa

SARW and the Bench Marks Foundation will be closely monitoring the Constitutional Court hearing on a landmark case on Strategic Litigation against Public Participation suits....

+ Read more
SARW 2020 Annual report

As a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 presented immeasurable difficulties for individuals and organisations alike. The pandemic has changed how we work, learn,...

+ Read more
Summary Report of the 5th Edition of the Alternative Mining Indaba of the Democratic Republic of Congo

From the 27th to the 28th of October 2021, the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) organised the 5th edition of the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI)...

+ Read more
COP26 Should Call on Extractive Industries to be Proactive in Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Efforts Especially on the African Continent where their Activities are Dominant

PRESS RELEASE: The 26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change () in Glasgow takes place at a time when...

+ Read more
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 2021: Extractive industries must swiftly adopt a human rights-based approach to their operations

  10 December 2021 The extractive industry is a key economic sector in the growth and development of many African countries, but has not been able to...

+ Read more
RAPPORT SYNTHÈSE DES TRAVAUX DE LA CINQUIÈME EDITION DE L’ALTERNATIVE MINING INDABA DE LA REPUBLIQUE DEMOCRATIQUE DU CONGO

 INTRODUCTION                                                                                                                                         Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) a organisé du 27 au 28 octobre 2021 à Pullman Grand Hôtel de Kinshasa, en partenariat avec Open Society...

+ Read more
SADC countries must position natural resources for the purposes of fighting poverty

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis are reversing decades of progress in the fight against...

+ Read more
The South African government needs to act swiftly to formalise the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining to curb illegal mining activities

The recent confrontation between law enforcement and people who were engaged in illegal mining activities in the North West, South Africa shows why the government...

+ Read more
Copper belt Civil Society Mining Forum Cautions Government on the Suspension of Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Activities on Disused Mining Dump sites

Press Statement 

Ndola -Zambia – We wish to congratulate the United Party for National Development (UPND) and its President His Excellence Hakainde Hichilema for...

+ Read more
PRESS RELEASE- CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS WORKING ON EXTRACTIVE RESOURCE GOVERNANCE ON THE COPPERBELT PROVINCE OF ZAMBIA LAUNCH “THE COPPERBELT CIVIL SOCIETY MINING FORUM”

Ndola-Zambia – In response to the visible negative impact of mining activities on Copperbelt communities, ten national and regional advocacy organisations have come together to...

+ Read more
SARW’s RESPONSE TO THE CHAMBER OF MINES NAMIBIA MEDIA RELEASE OF 18 MARCH 2021

Re: Namibian Chamber of Mines observations on inaccuracies, faulty assumptions and allegations in the SARW Report. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND: This document serves as the official Southern...

+ Read more
Mining Workers’ Health Must be Prioritise before Profit

World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2021 28 April 2021

The COVID-19 global health crisis has exposed the lack of preparedness for disaster...

+ Read more
REPORT OF THE ACADEMIC SESSION TO THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL

THE MINING CODE WITH REGARD TO THE IMPERATIVE OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Kinshasa, April 22, 2021

The Economic and Social Council (CES) was established...

+ Read more
RAPPORT DE LA SEANCE ACADEMIQUE AU CONSEIL ECONOMIQUE ET SOCIAL

LE CODE MINIER AU REGARD DE L’IMPERATIF DU DEVELOPPEMENT COMMUNAUTAIRE

Kinshasa, le 22 Avril 2021

Le Conseil Economique et Social (CES) a été...

+ Read more
SARW’s message on International World Health Day 2021

International World Health Day 2021 comes as the world continues to reflect on the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on people’s health. The occasion is...

+ Read more
How mineral resources can fuel the development of Africa in the context of post-Covid economic recovery

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has estimated that Covid-19 has pushed 131 million people into destitution in 2020. Its long-term effects...

+ Read more
SARW ANNUAL REPORT 2019

It  is with great pleasure the Southern Africa Resource Watch presents its first annual report as an independent watchdog that seeks to ensure that Africa, and...

+ Read more
SADC Countries Should Draw Lessons From Each Other’s Experiences to Harness the Extractive Industry for People’s Benefit

The drama of the U.S election, previously lauded as the beacon of democracy, has grabbed the world’s attention as the incumbent, President Trump, has refused...

+ Read more
SARW submission on Zambia’s mining legislation and policy framework

 SARW recently appeared before the legal review technical committee of the  Zambian Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development Act of 2015 (MMDA).  The...

+ Read more
Announcement on New Funding Support to SARW from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

We are pleased to share with you great news on the new funding support to SARW by The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation towards our Business...

+ Read more
ACCOMPAGNEMENT DE LA CHEFFERIE DE BAYEKE PAR SARW DANS LES CONSULTATIONS DES COMMUNAUTES EN VUE DE LA SIGNATURE DU CAHIER DES CHARGES DE L’ENTREPRISE TENKE FUNGURUME MINING

SARW est engagé dans un processus de renforcement des capacités des Entités Territoriales Décentralisées (ETD) en République Démocratique du Congo (RDC). C’est dans ce cadre...

+ Read more
Pursuing An Economic Independence Through the Control of Mineral Resources

Today we celebrate Africa Day at a time we are grappling with the health pandemic of COVID19. COVID 19 could reduce by more than half...

+ Read more
First Quantum Minerals and the New Science Lab at Kyafukuma School

Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) commends First Quantum Minerals (FQM) on the decision to support the community of Kyafukuma1 by providing support to the education...

+ Read more
Synthèse travaux société civile RDC

La Coordination des Actions des plaidoyers de la Société civile pour la gouvernance des Ressources naturelles s’est réunie, le jeudi 23 janvier 2020, dans la...

+ Read more
Civil Society Organisations Working Together for Change in Zimbabwe’s Extractive Industries

Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) hosted a roundtable discussion for civil society organisations working on the extractive industries in Zimbabwe, particularly the mining sector, on...

+ Read more