The Persian Gulf of Strategic Minerals

Windhoek – In his memoirs, “The Great Betrayal”, Rhodesia’s last Prime Minister, Ian Douglas Smith, speaks of receiving “an interesting briefing” in 1967.

The briefing was from Rhodesia's Security Council and was about “the communist plan for Africa, as part of their overall scheme for world domination”.

Smith said a map was produced that showed the “communists had firmly established themselves in a number of countries in North Africa, methodically moving on to new ground once a base had been secured”.

He wrote: “The ultimate target was South Africa, which was not only the industrial giant of Africa, but was one of the most richly mineralised parts of our world…

“It was a few years later that I was pleased to receive a report that the United States had been alerted to this development and, as a result, their Congress Committee on Strategic Minerals and Mining had sent a mission to investigate. 

“After visiting Zaire (now the DRC), Zambia, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa, they produced a commendable report and in most expressive language termed the area 'the Persian Gulf of strategic minerals of our earth'.

“Apart from the greatest world deposits of gold, diamonds, platinum and chrome, they itemised a list of other strategic minerals in which many countries, including the USA and Canada, are deficient.

“The only other country where one could find a similar conglomerate of these minerals was the USSR (now Russia); if the Soviets could have gained control of this area, therefore, they would have had a virtual world monopoly.

“The report warned the American Congress and the nation of this potential danger, and urged them to rouse themselves from their complacency.”

Another account, one contained in a 1982 US Congressional Budget Office report titled “Cobalt: Policy Options for a Strategic Mineral” says cobalt alloys are critical to the Western world’s aerospace and weapons industries.

And 64 percent of global supply is in a belt that stretches from Katanga in the DRC into northern Zambia. America is the world’s biggest consumer of cobalt but has not mined any on its own territory since 1971 and is 100 percent reliant on imports.

Africa is thus of strategic importance, it seems, to everyone else but Africans.

A Post-Conflict Assessment of the DRC by the UN’s Environment Programme in 2012 outlined the potential that country has to become a global economic powerhouse.

The key findings of that study, conducted in conjunction with the DRC’s Environment Ministry are:

·       The DRC has the highest level of biodiversity in Africa;

·       The DRC’s tropical rainforests extend over 1.55 million square km and account for more than half of Africa’s forest resources – making them a critical global ecosystem service provider and a potential source of up to US$900 million in annual revenue;

·       Its untapped mineral reserves are of global importance and are estimated to be worth US$24 trillion;

·       The Congo River Basin supports Africa’s largest inland fisheries with an estimated production potential of 520 000 tonnes per year;

·       Entrepreneurship is on the rise and there is a huge market for financial services, ICTs and other support services and infrastructure, including energy

The DRC represents the jewel in this “Persian Gulf of Strategic Minerals”, and to top it all it has 50 percent of Africa’s forests (including 80 million hectares of arable land) and a river called Inga that can conceivably provide hydroelectricity to the whole of Southern Africa, at the very least.




August 2013
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