EU to Support DRC’s Plan to Produce Lithium Batteries

On 4 March 2023, the European Union (EU) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) officially announced the kick-off of negotiations which shall eventually lead to the local beneficiation of critical minerals.

The announcement took place during the Economic Forum of Kinshasa which saw the participation of Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi and French President Emmanuel Macron, who is on a tour of Africa.

According to a study conducted by BloombergNEF (BNEF), the cost of production of a lithium battery in DRC could cost three times cheaper than in China and two times cheaper than in Poland. The unique advantage of DRC is that all the critical materials that go into Lithium batteries are readily available either locally or from nearby countries.

President Macron declared that France is ready to support the DRC to climb up the value chain in the mining sector. In particular, the National Geological and Mining Research Bureau (BRGM) of France will provide geolocalization and assay services to assist in the beneficiation of the mining resources in DRC.

The project is in line with the policy of the DRC to promote Local Value Addition (#LVA) and to transition towards #CarbonNeutrality. To that effect, the EU Parliament has voted to halt the sales of gas or diesel vehicles and to only allow the sales of Electric Vehicles (#EV) as soon as 2035.

EU Commissioner Thierry Breton also announced that the EU plans to release its Critical Raw Materials Act in mid-March 2023. The new legislation is aimed at securing critical materials such as lithium, cobalt, manganese and rare earths which go into key green technologies such as electric vehicles and wind turbines.

Totally, the EU committed to mobilize EUR 50 million into the DRC for developing the critical minerals and related infrastructure. This move is part of the EU #GlobalGateway initiative, which has earmarked USD 300 billion for Africa.

In the combat against #ClimateChange, DRC intends to seize the opportunity to upgrade from a purely extractive role to a value addition player in the new global supply chain around EV.