The UK and South Africa have announced they will form a new partnership dedicated to 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 will 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 South Africa’s Department of Natural Resources and Energy (RSA) and the UK Department for Enterprise, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
South Africa is a leading producer of minerals used in clean technologies, including platinum, palladium and iridium used in hydrogen production, and vanadium and manganese used in battery storage.
Demand for minerals used in clean technologies is set to skyrocket in recent years, raising concerns about security of supply and the environmental impact of large-scale extraction.
Therefore, as part of the new partnership, the UK and South Africa have committed to work together to promote responsible mineral exploration, development, production and processing in South Africa. The governments said that by working together, they can help support investment in exploration and production of minerals that meet high environmental standards, while expanding access to minerals essential for clean industrial and economic development and the global transition clean energy are crucial.
They said that promoting the responsible extraction of minerals is central to the global clean energy transition, as well as ensuring the sustainability of the mining industry and supply chains through financing, high standards of environmental, social and governance, health and safety, and through Building will be a highly skilled workforce.
The countries said they would work together on a range of clean technologies, including but not limited to battery storage, fuel cell technologies, energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
“By working together, we hope to identify mutually beneficial projects and related initiatives,” they said in a statement.
In addition, they hope the partnership will also encourage private sector companies to participate in the sustainable mining industry and support investment flows into the sector, which in turn could create and grow new clean jobs.
Both countries said they would encourage and support partnerships between UK and South African companies along the minerals and clean energy value chain to grow and strengthen business ties to the benefit of both economies.
The announcement of the new partnership is part of a broader updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Republic of South Africa and the UK Government, focused on collaboration in science, technology, research and innovation, unveiled earlier this week.
The new memorandum replaces and updates the previous agreement, entitled “Memorandum of Understanding on Scientific Cooperation,” which the countries signed in 1995.
In the new MOU, both countries said they are “committed to expanding the scope of research and innovation cooperation through the creation of a productive partnership for peaceful purposes and mutual benefit.”
The news follows the official state visit of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who spent two days in London this week.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met with President Ramaphosa to discuss the next phases of the partnership between the two countries, which also included the launch of the UK-South Africa Infrastructure Partnership, which supports South Africa’s economic growth through major infrastructure developments and provides greater access to UK businesses on projects worth up to £5.37 billion over the next three years.
Secretary of State James Cleverly welcomed news of the visit and the new MoU, highlighting the opportunity to explore green innovations together.
“This week’s state visit, the first under His Majesty the King, is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our bond but also allows us to spark greater growth, create even more opportunities for British and South African businesses and continue to drive South Africa’s transition green energy,” he said.