UK and South Africa announce Ma’aden Clean Technology Partnership

UK and South Africa announce Ma’aden Clean Technology Partnership

The United Kingdom and South Africa have announced a new partnership dedicated to the responsible and sustainable exploration of minerals in South Africa for use in clean energy technologies.

The UK Government announced earlier this week that it will work with the Republic of South Africa to deepen cooperation on a range of mineral mining and energy projects, including through regular ministerial and technical dialogues between the South African Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy (RSA) and the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

South Africa is a leading producer of a raft of clean-tech metals, including platinum, palladium and iridium, which are used in hydrogen production, as well as vanadium and manganese, which are used to store batteries.

Demand for minerals used in clean technologies is set to soar in recent years, raising concerns about both security of supply and the environmental impact of large-scale extraction.

As such, under the new partnership, the UK and South Africa have committed to working together to promote the responsible exploration, development, production and processing of minerals in South Africa. By working together, governments said they can help support investment in mineral exploration and production that adheres to high environmental standards, while also expanding access to minerals that are key to clean industrial and economic development and the global clean energy transition.

They said that promoting responsible extraction of minerals will be central to the global transition to clean energy, as well as ensuring the sustainability of the mining industry and supply chains through financing, high ESG, health and safety, and building a highly skilled workforce.

The countries said they look forward to collaborating on a range of clean technologies, including but not limited to battery storage, fuel cell technologies, energy efficiency, and renewable energy technologies.

“Working together, we hope to identify mutually beneficial projects and related initiatives,” they said in a statement.

In addition, they hope that the partnership will also promote the participation of private sector companies in the sustainable mining industry and support investment flows into the sector which in turn can lead to the creation and development of new clean jobs.

Both countries said they would encourage and support partnerships between UK and South African companies across the clean energy and minerals value chain in order to grow and strengthen trade links for the benefit of both economies.

The announcement of the new partnership forms part of a broader updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Republic of South Africa and the UK government, focusing on collaboration in science, technology, research and innovation that was unveiled earlier this week.

The new memorandum replaces the previous agreement and updates it under the title of the Memorandum of Understanding on Scientific Cooperation signed by the countries in 1995.

In the new Memorandum of Understanding, both countries stated that they are “committed to expanding cooperation in the field of research and innovation by establishing a fruitful partnership for peaceful purposes and mutual benefit.”

The news follows the official state visit of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who visited London for two days this week.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met President Ramaphosa to discuss the next phases of the partnership between the two countries, which also included launching the UK-South Africa Infrastructure Partnership, supporting South Africa’s economic growth through major infrastructure developments, and providing increased access to UK companies for projects worth up to to £5.37 billion over the next three years.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly welcomed news of the visit and the new Memorandum of Understanding, highlighting the opportunity to collectively explore green innovation.

“This week’s state visit, the first under His Majesty the King, is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our relationship but also allow us to deliver greater growth, create more opportunities for British and South African businesses alike, and advance South Africa’s transition to green energy.”

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