Home » Congo’s New Smelter to Boost Cobalt Supply for Electric Vehicles

Congo’s New Smelter to Boost Cobalt Supply for Electric Vehicles

by Victor Adetimilehin

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has announced its support for a new copper-cobalt smelter project that aims to formalise and improve the conditions of artisanal mining in the country. The project is expected to cost about $350 million and will be developed by a Congolese private company, Buenassa, in partnership with a US-based financial consulting firm, Delphos International.

The DRC is the world’s largest producer of cobalt, a key ingredient for electric vehicle batteries, and a major supplier of copper, a metal that is essential for renewable energy infrastructure. However, the country’s mineral wealth is often exploited by informal miners, who work in dangerous and unregulated conditions, and face human rights abuses and environmental risks.

The new smelter project will help address these challenges by creating a domestic value chain for the cobalt and copper produced by the artisanal sector, which employs hundreds of thousands of Congolese. The project will also reduce the dependency on China, which currently dominates the refining and processing of these minerals.

The project is aligned with the geopolitical goals of the United States, which is seeking to secure its access to strategic minerals and support the development of an electric vehicle value chain in Africa. The US has recently agreed to back a plan by the DRC and Zambia to create a regional hub for electric vehicle manufacturing and battery recycling.

The project is also in line with the vision of President Felix Tshisekedi, who has been seeking to renegotiate the country’s minerals-for-infrastructure deal with China, and to increase the local ownership and control of the mining sector. The project will be owned by Congolese businessman Eddy Kioni, who is working with the state-owned company Entreprise Generale du Cobalt, which has the exclusive right to buy and sell the cobalt from the artisanal sector.

The project will initially produce 30,000 tonnes of copper cathode and 5,000 tonnes of cobalt hydroxide per year, but it is expected to expand with the backing of the government and Delphos International, which will help raise the financing. The project will also process industrial ore to ensure its profitability and has secured a deal with a US-based commodities trader to market the output.

The project is expected to create jobs, generate revenues, and improve the social and environmental standards of the artisanal mining sector. It will also contribute to the global transition to a low-carbon economy by increasing the supply of cobalt and copper for the electric vehicle industry.

The project is a sign of hope and opportunity for the DRC, which has long suffered from conflict, poverty, and corruption. It is also a testament to the potential of cooperation and innovation in the mining sector, which can benefit both the people and the planet.

Source: Bloomberg

You may also like

Leave a Comment

The African Miner is the vanguard of the mining industry, delivering world-class insight and news.

Latest Stories

© 2024 The African Miner. All Rights Reserved.