US, Saudi Arabia in talks to secure metal supplies in Africa: WSJ

The United States and Saudi Arabia are in talks to secure metals in Africa needed to help them with their energy transitions, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing people with knowledge of the talks.

A state-backed Saudi venture would buy stakes in mining assets worth $15 billion in African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, and Namibia, which will permit US companies to have rights to buy some of the production, the report added.

The US is in a race to catch up with China for supplies of cobalt, lithium, and other metals that are used in electric car batteries, laptops, and smartphones.

In a similar arrangement in July, Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma’aden) and the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) acquired 10 percent of Brazilian Vale’s base metal unit, while US investment firm Engine No. 1 acquired 3 percent.

The newspaper said the PIF approached Congo in June about investing in cobalt, copper, and tantalum in the country via its $3 billion joint venture with Ma’aden called Manara Minerals

Manara is also focusing on iron ore, nickel, and lithium.

The White House is seeking the financial backing of other sovereign wealth funds in the region, but talks with Saudi Arabia have progressed the farthest, the Journal added.

The Saudi government and The White House did not immediatelyrespond to a request for comment.

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