Home » CMOC Overtakes Glencore as World’s Leading Cobalt Producer with 170% Surge

CMOC Overtakes Glencore as World’s Leading Cobalt Producer with 170% Surge

China's CMOC Group Dominates Cobalt Market as Output Soars, Triggering Price Slump

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe

In a significant industry development, China’s CMOC Group has emerged as the world’s leading cobalt producer, surpassing Glencore Plc. CMOC’s remarkable achievement comes on the back of a staggering 170% increase in cobalt production in the previous year, a milestone it proudly shared in a recent filing.

The Hong Kong-listed CMOC Group reported a cobalt output of 55,526 tons for the year 2023, making a significant leap in the global cobalt production landscape. This remarkable feat is attributed to the outstanding performance of CMOC’s new Kisanfu mine, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which commenced operations in the second quarter of the year.

This surge in production has had far-reaching effects on the cobalt market. To put this into perspective, Glencore, a key player in the industry, had forecasted an output of up to 42,000 tons for the same period. CMOC’s actual output exceeded even its own production guidance by over 20%.

The accelerated output from CMOC’s $1.8 billion Kisanfu mine was a key contributor to a significant decline in cobalt prices throughout the year. This was further compounded by increased production in Indonesia and a resurgence in exports from CMOC’s other facility in the Congo, Tenke-Fungurume. The market was already grappling with one of its largest surpluses at the beginning of 2023, and the additional cobalt output played a pivotal role in driving prices down by approximately 30% over the course of the year.

The supply-demand imbalance in the cobalt market became so pronounced that by mid-year, Glencore found it necessary to start accumulating surplus tonnages at its operations in the Congo, in a strategic move aimed at rebalancing the market. It is worth noting that Glencore is set to reveal its full-production results next month, shedding further light on the industry dynamics.

CMOC’s impressive performance isn’t limited to cobalt alone. The company also witnessed a remarkable 51% surge in copper production, reaching 419,539 tons. This achievement solidifies CMOC’s position as one of the world’s leading copper producers, at a time when many mining companies are grappling with challenges in scaling up their output.

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