Lecturer, Institute of Geography and Development Studies, School of Environmental Sciences, Njala University
Introduction: an overview
Africa’s known mineral wealth places it among the world’s richest continents. Its very large share of the world’s mineral resources includes diamonds, gold, silver, the platinum group metals, emeralds, rubies, and other precious minerals, bauxite, manganese, nickel, cobalt, copper, cadmium, chrome, chromium, lithium, tantalum, germanium, lead, zinc, and other non-ferrous metals, iron-ores (hematite and magnetite), antimony, germanium, uranium, radium, tin, low cost thorium, cassiterite, rutile, ilmenite, zircon, monazite, mica, vermiculite, limestone, gypsum, barites, potash, phosphates, kaolin, “granite” for dimensional stones, and other industrial minerals. Africa is also known for proven reserves of high quality petroleum, natural gas, peat, lignite, and coal with low sulphur content (i.e. Gondwana coal) (see figure 1).
Some of the largest, and richest, mineral deposits in the world have been found in Africa. For much of the last half of the 20th century little mineral exploration and development work was done in Africa, except for Southern Africa, even though there is significant potential for the discovery of new deposits. By the mid 1990’s modern exploration started to spread across much of Africa and many new deposits have been discovered and developed and some of the old major deposits are being renovated.
South Africa, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia and the DRC dominate the African mining industry. Whilst countries such as Angola, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana rely heavily on the mining industry as a major foreign currency earner. Unfortunately several African civil wars are funded by (and often caused by) some of these commodities, in particular diamonds.
The potential of Africa for the discovery and development of... [continues]
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