US in deal with DRC for future electric vehicle battery suppliesCobalt, which is plentiful in the DRC, is an essential part of the lithium-ion batteries that give electric vehicles more range and durability.
The United States has recently signed an agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia to jointly develop a supply chain for electric vehicle batteries. The two countries hold considerable deposits of the basic mineral inputs used to manufacturer these batteries.
The deal was one of the outcomes from the December Africa Leaders Summit hosted by President Joe Biden in Washington. According to the US Department of State, ‘Through this MOU, the United States will support the commitment between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia to develop jointly a supply chain for electric vehicle batteries. The MOU supports the DRC and Zambia’s goal of building a productive supply chain, from the mine to the assembly line, while also committing to respect international standards to prevent, detect, and take legal action to fight corruption throughout this process’.
The DRC produces more than 70 pc of the world’s cobalt. Cobalt is an essential part of the lithium-ion batteries that give electric vehicles more range and durability.
Zambia is the world’s sixth-largest copper producer, and the second largest cobalt producer in Africa. Chinese companies are already involved in mining for cobalt in the DRC and the country ranks top globally in production of electric batteries. Chinese firm, CATL, expanded its market share from 32 pc in 2021 to 34 pc in 2022. This latest move by the Americans is seen as an acceptance that closer engagement with the DRC is crucial as a source of supply for strategic mineral inputs used in advanced technology such as electric vehicle batteries.
With the shift to greener energy to fuel vehicles, these resources, are crucial components of the urgently needed global energy transition. According to the State Department statement, ‘The plan to develop an electric battery supply chain opens the door for open and transparent investment to build value-added and sustainable industry in Africa and creating a just energy transition for workers and local communities. The US private sector is a tremendous resource, both for technical knowledge and financing, for commercial development at every step in the process. The US government will work with the DRC and Zambia to ensure the private sector has a level playing field to participate in these projects’.