Good afternoon, everyone. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here. This is my second time at Mining Indaba, and I appreciate the opportunity to address a group like yours.
I’m the Under Secretary of Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment at the U.S. Department of State based in Washington D.C.
Thank you to our Bureau of Energy Resources for inviting me to kick off this important workshop, and I offer my greetings to everyone here today. It’s a testament to the importance of this work that we’re all here this week.
I’m here because African countries are important partners in pursuing shared global and regional priorities — from ending the COVID-19 pandemic and building back to a more inclusive global economy, to meeting the climate challenge and building more resilient energy systems.
Broadly, my three priorities here at Indaba are: promoting a just and inclusive clean energy transition, leading to economic growth and prosperity; building robust, sustainable, and transparent supply chains for critical minerals in support of the clean energy transition; and improving the financial and regulatory environment in the sector and promoting transparent and accountable natural resource management.
In pursuing these three priorities, we seek to help our African partners strengthen local capacity, support job creation, and promote economic growth that is beneficial, sustainable, and inclusive over the long term.
Our focus will be leveraging the full suite of technical assistance (like this workshop), project finance, and diplomatic tools to deploy clean energy solutions. and many of these solutions will require a range of critical minerals and metals in rapidly increasing quantities.
By way of example:
An electric vehicle requires six times the mineral inputs of a combustion engine car. Minerals such as cobalt and lithium, nickel, and rare earths are essential to building wind turbines, photovoltaic solar plants, battery storage, and more.
No government can create resilient mineral supply chains on its own. To this end, the Department of State is ramping up efforts with likeminded partners around the world to promote sustainable clean energy supply chains, from mining, to processing, to recycling.
For example, in December 2022, Secretary Blinken signed a trilateral MOU [memorandum of understanding] between the United States, the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC], and Zambia. This MOU supports the commitment between the DRC and Zambia to jointly develop 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.
Our efforts also include working with governments like yours through engagements like today’s workshop.
We share best practices through technical cooperation with key partners. The implementation of these best practices minimizes the environmental and social impacts of mining – precisely the sort of race to the top we are encouraging when it comes to standards.
By creating a race to the top in terms of environmental, social, and governance, or “ESG,” standards, we can level the playing field for companies that adhere to those high standards, provide opportunities for innovation toward new mining and processing approaches that reduce environmental impacts, and lower the environmental costs of mining and processing.
In the context of the clean energy transition, our efforts will require tremendous investment around the world in sectors like mining. This is where the private sector, and our work today, plays a role.
The private sector is an indispensable resource for technical knowledge, financing, and commercial development at every step in the process of mineral sector development.
We strongly believe that governments must work with the private sector to spur and support economic growth and prosperity through high-quality investment.
Governments must provide the appropriate commercial enabling environment, including government financial support, but bringing these efforts to scale depends on sound business analysis and risk calculations from the private sector.
In short, governments and the private sector both have roles to play, and appropriate support for the private sector is critical for our shared success.
In this effort, the U.S. government and companies can help create an investment climate that adheres to high standards for the environment, transparency, sustainability, and governance.
Successful business relationships need predictable regulatory and legal environments. Governments need to enable investments through reforms, and companies need to manage and pursue business plans that drive the energy transition while still taking on reasonable levels of risk themselves.
Today in this workshop, you’ll delve deeper into these themes. You’ll work with experts who have spent decades facilitating these kinds of deals to critically explore ways to advance sector investment in your home country.
So, there is much to do. And we are just getting started. I look forward to seeing the fruits of our joint efforts – clean energy, good jobs, economic growth, and improved lives.