Major Minerals of Africa

Africa is home to over 12% of the world's oil reserves, 8% of its natural gas reserves, and 30% of its mineral deposits. This continent contains up to 90% of the world's platinum and chromium reserves. The largest reserves of uranium, cobalt, diamonds, and platinum are found in Africa. It has 66% of the world's arable land and 10% of the planet's internal renewable freshwater supply.

Mineral industry of Africa

The fact that Africa has the second-largest mineral sector in the world and the second-largest land area in the world (30.37 million square kilometres) shows that there are plenty of resources on the continent. In many African countries, where there are 1.4 billion people, mineral exploration and extraction are significant economic drivers and vital parts of the economy. Africa, which is also rich in mineral resources, is home to the biggest quantities of bauxite, cobalt, industrial diamond, phosphate rock, platinum-group metals (PGM), vermiculite, and zirconium in the world.

Most African countries derive between 30 and 50 percent of their total wealth from their natural capital. More than 70% of the daily needs of people in Sub-Saharan Africa are met by forests and woods. Land serves as a resource for both sociocultural development and economic expansion. The advantages that can be gained over time are, however, dwindling because a substantial fraction of these resources is used in an unsustainable way and others are lost due to illegal behaviour.

For instance, it is estimated that Africa loses 195 billion USD worth of natural capital annually as a result of illegal money flows, illegal mining, illegal logging, the illegal trade in wildlife, unregulated fishing, environmental degradation, and loss. The continent has much to gain from working together and leveraging its enormous natural resources to fund development projects and increase prosperity, but it must also ensure that future natural resource exploitation and growth are goal-oriented, climate resilient, and sustainable.

Production and Statistics

The world's top or second-ranked mineral reserves for bauxite, cobalt, diamonds, phosphate rocks, platinum-group metals (PGM), vermiculite, and zirconium are all found in Africa. There are also large quantities of several other minerals. The following minerals were produced on African soil in 2012 and contributed to global mineral production: platinum 69.4%, natural diamond 56%, graphite 2%, phosphate rock 21%, coal 4%, mineral fuels (including coal) - 13%, and petroleum 8%; bauxite 7%, aluminium 5%, chromite 38%, cobalt 60%, copper 9%, gold 20%, iron ore 2%, steel 1%, lead (Pb) 2%, manganese 38%, zinc 1%, and cement 4%.

Supply-side assumptions, such as public plans for increasing production, the building of new capacity, and bankable feasibility studies, have been used to estimate the output of major mineral commodities for 2005 and beyond. The prognosis sections were built on anticipated trends that might have an impact on facilities that produce in 2005 as well as proposed new facilities that operating firms, consortia, or governments anticipate would be operational within the given timeframes.

Estimates of future production, exploration and mine development, capital project costs, and the timing of the start of operations are all examples of forward-looking information that are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those anticipated.


Here are some descriptions about the metals which are predominantly found in Africa −

Aluminium, Bauxite, and Alumina

Mozambique, South Africa, Cameroon, and Egypt all made major contributions to Africa's 54% rise in refined aluminium production between 2000 and 2005. Guinea was the main producer of bauxite in Africa, but production fell by roughly 3% over the same time period. In 2005, 5% of the world's aluminium was produced in Africa. In 2005, Africa's use of aluminium climbed by 3.4%, with South Africa being the region's largest consumer. The construction of new smelters and expansion plans in nations like Mozambique, South Africa, Cameroon, and Nigeria are expected to increase Africa's production of refined aluminium and bauxite over the coming years.


Zambia led a significant growth in copper production in Africa between 2000 and 2005, whereas South Africa suffered a fall. Zambia produced 65% of all the copper mined in Africa in 2005. Production of refined copper increased as well, with 77% of Africa's output coming from Zambia. Zambian, Botswana, Congo (Kinshasa), and Eritrean projects were expected to be the main drivers of the predicted 16% annual growth in African copper production over the ensuing years. The production of refined copper was predicted to increase by an average of 17% year, with large contributions coming from both Zambia and Congo (Kinshasa). Africa demonstrated significant development potential for the copper industry.


South Africa's long-term fall contributed to the continent's general decline in production, which saw a 14% decline in gold mining output from 2000 to 2005. Recent gains in production were brought about by the opening of new mines in Tanzania and Mali. South Africa produced 56% of all the gold in Africa in 2005, with Ghana, Tanzania, and Mali rounding out the top four.

With new projects in South Africa and Ghana, the production of gold mines in Africa is anticipated to rise by 17% between 2005 and 2009. The output of Tanzania is expected to increase, although it will eventually decrease because of mine closures. Large-scale gold mines are anticipated to be established in further African nations.

While there are many other minerals also which accounts to a greater part of Africa’s economy, these were most significant among them.

List of Major Minerals of Africa

Here a table that shows the amount of particular minerals present in Africa and their location −


Percent of world production




Botswana 35%; Congo (Kinshasa) 34%; South Africa 17%; Angola, 8%



South Africa 56%; Ghana, 13%; Tanzania, 10%; and Mali, 8%



Namibia 46%; Niger 44%; South Africa less than 10%

Bauxite (for aluminium)


Guinea 95%; Ghana 5%



South Africa 54%; Egypt 32%; Libya 7%; Algeria 6%



South Africa 48%; Mozambique 32%; Egypt 14%

Copper (mine/refined)


Zambia 65%/77%; South Africa 15%/19%; Congo (Kinshasa) 13%/0%; Egypt 0%/3%



South Africa 97%/96%



South Africa 99%


Natural resources abundant in Africa include minerals, oil, gas, forests, and arable land. It is home to a sizeable fraction of the world's mineral reserves, including those for gold, platinum, diamonds, uranium, and chromium. The African economy depends heavily on the resource sector for development and growth. To guarantee long-term advantages, sustainable management and exploitation of these resources are essential.

Africa has the ability to use its enormous natural resources to finance development efforts, promote prosperity, and work toward climate resilience and sustainable growth, despite obstacles like criminal operations and unsustainable extraction. A sustainable future depends on cooperative efforts and ethical resource usage.

Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of the world's mineral reserves are found in Africa?

Approximately 30% of the world's mineral reserves are found in Africa.

Which minerals does Africa have the highest reserves of?

Africa has the highest reserves of uranium, cobalt, diamonds, and platinum. It also has significant reserves of gold, chromium, and oil.

What percentage of overall wealth in African nations is attributed to natural capital?

Natural capital makes up between 30% and 50% of the overall wealth in most African nations.

What is the reliance on forests and woods in Sub-Saharan Africa for daily needs?

Forests and woods in Sub-Saharan Africa are relied upon for over 70% of daily needs by the local population.

What are the main challenges associated with natural resource exploitation in Africa?

The main challenges include unsustainable practices, criminal activities such as illegal mining and logging, environmental degradation, and loss of natural capital.

Which countries are major producers of aluminium, bauxite, and alumina in Africa?

Mozambique, South Africa, Cameroon, and Egypt are major producers of aluminium, bauxite, and alumina in Africa.

Updated on: 16-Nov-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started