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Accepted Paper:

Preparing for the Gold Rush: Critical Minerals and Development in Southern Africa  
Aidan Barlow (University of Bath)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the impact of energy transition metals in Zambia and Zimbabwe. It explores the growing expectations the anticipated ‘gold rush’ over critical minerals and how rising prices have altered the anticipation of what mining-based development can bring.

Paper long abstract:

With a growing discourse around the anticipated rise in demand for critical minerals and associated commodity price rises and what this means for actors in the Global North, less has been discussed on how these predictions will play out for mineral suppliers in the Global South and their impact on development. Southern Africa is one such region that will feel these effects; whilst not as endowed with critical minerals as Latin American states and Australia, it nevertheless contains moderate amount of resources to make it a medium sized player in a variety of critical minerals. This paper examines the impact that the increasing demand for energy transition metals has on the political economy of development in Southern Africa. It will explore the political economy of critical minerals in two countries; the cobalt and nickel sector in Zambia, and the nickel and lithium sector in Zimbabwe. Both countries have ever-growing expectations over mining-based development, particularly around critical minerals with an anticipated ‘gold rush’ in price and demand. It will examine how these rising prices has altered the anticipation of what mining-based development can bring to various actors, building on our knowledge of the role temporalities play during times of unprecedented change.

Panel P27
The extractive politics of Africa’s energy transition: A new dawn or more of the same?
  Session 1 Friday 28 June, 2024, -