DRC’s Katanga mine restart boosts cobalt production for Glencore

Katanga’s Kamoto mine in the DRC is one of the world’s largest producers of cobalt.
A conveyor belt carries chunks of Raw cobalt after a first transformation at a plant in Lubumbashi on February 16, 2018, before being exported, mainly to China, to be refined. – To Promulgate or not to promulgate? Congolese President Joseph Kabila is playing with the nerves of markets and lobbies by continuing the suspense around the reform of the mining code which plans to multiply by five a tax on cobalt. The Democratic republic of Congo is the leading cobalt producer providing 67% of the increasing global demand. (Photo by SAMIR TOUNSI / AFP)

Miner and trader Glencore say the restart of operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo increased cobalt production in 2018 by 54 percent while copper output rose 11 percent.

 In an update to investors in December, the London-listed company said it stuck to its 2019 production guidance

Production of cobalt, used in batteries for electric vehicles, reached 42,200 tonnes in 2018 while copper hit 1.453 million tonnes.

Glencore’s Katanga Mining unit in Congo ramped up in late 2017.

Katanga’s Kamoto mine in the DRC is one of the world’s largest producers of cobalt.

However cobalt production is not translating into sales, as Glencore has been forced to keep the metal stockpiled at the site until it can find a long-term solution to remove excess uranium in the cobalt.

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Katanga Mining, Glencore’s subsidiary in the DRC, said it had been told by the government to suspend a project to build a new system to remove uranium from its cobalt supplies which makes it unsafe for export.

 “On January 30, 2019, the Company’s 75 per cent operating subsidiary Kamoto Copper Company received a letter from the DRC Minister of Mines following the inspection conducted by the DRC Government in the fourth quarter of 2018,” Katanga said in a statement. 

“The Minister of Mines raised certain concerns with the technical solutions identified by KCC and requested that KCC suspend the project to build an Ion exchange plant until further notice. KCC intends to engage with the Ministry of Mines to understand and address their concerns.” 

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