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Africa’s Strategic Mineral Deposits Now at the Center of an Increasingly Fraught Great Power Competition


Iron ore, tantalum, cobalt, coltan, and a handful of other strategically important minerals and elements are at the center of an increasingly heated battle for the control of global supply chains among the world’s largest economies.

Leaders in Europe and the United States have worried for years about China’s growing dominance in the extraction and processing of certain vital raw materials like cobalt and tantalum. Reserves of these metals, which are important to many high-tech sectors, are located in the global south, most notably in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now, countries on both sides of the Atlantic are taking steps to shore up control. 

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