strategic niche

Lithium mining in DRC could make it a top global supplier

By Muriel Devey Malu-Malu

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Posted on June 22, 2021 20:43

Although it does not yet produce lithium, the Democratic Republic of Congo looks set to become one of the world’s suppliers of this metal, classified as strategic by the Congolese authorities in 2018, by as early as 2022.

In the provinces of Tanganyika and Haut-Lomami, in the south-east of the DRC, there is a rich reserve of “spodumene-rich pegmatite-type rocks”. These contain a lithium mineral associated with a stannocoltanian ore.

However, during the colonial era and right up until 1982, only tin was extracted from them. It was not until the 2010s that the DRC became interested in lithium and granted mining companies the first extracts containing evidence of this metal, which is now classified as a strategic mineral.

The new mining code passed by the Congolese government in 2018 identifies four “strategic metals”: cobalt, coltan, germanium and lithium, for which it has introduced an increase in royalties from 2% to 10%.

Boosted by the increase in global demand for lithium (used, among other things, to manufacture batteries), several companies have already mobilised in the sector. Two of these – in

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