Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe promoted the non-existent mineral "hazenile" to investors when addressing a mining conference in Australia on Wednesday, Business Day has reported.
Mantashe is in Australia at the annual Mining Down Under conference in Perth.
The minister mentioned "hazenile" in the same breath as battery minerals lithium, graphite and cobalt, saying it had recently been discovered in the Congo Caves in the Western Cape, according to a version of his speech uploaded by Mining Review Africa.
The fake mineral was first mentioned on the website of Smart Energy International on April 1, where it was described as a "miracle new mineral to revolutionise battery storage."
The article quotes a researcher saying its discovery was more important than the discovery of "unobtainium."
But it also qualified: "This was an APRIL FOOL's joke. We hope you had a laugh along with us..."
A departmental spokesperson told Business Day it was unfortunate that the speech's focus was being shifted to "what has now been confirmed as fake news" based on a site that usually carries reliable information.
During his address, the minister said there was no country that can match South Africa in terms of mineral diversity offerings, adding the country was "open for business". "As we continue discovering new minerals, we grow the prospects of mining in South Africa."
The Bushveld Complex in the northern part of South Africa, hosts more than half the world’s platinum group metals.
The most famous fake metal in Africa is vibranium, which is supposedly indestructible and used in the weaponry of superheroes. According to Marvel lore, a meteor containing the “metal” fell to earth over Africa thousands of years ago, which lead to the rise of Wakanda, the home of the Black Panther.