Home » Congo’s State Miner Eyes ERG’s Copper and Cobalt Assets

Congo’s State Miner Eyes ERG’s Copper and Cobalt Assets

The state-owned company seeks to reclaim projects and increase its metal reserves

by Motoni Olodun

Congo’s state-owned mining company, Gecamines, has made a firm offer to buy some of the copper and cobalt assets of Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) in the country, Reuters reported on Saturday. The move is part of Gecamines’ strategy to reclaim projects managed by partners and to boost its reserves of metals crucial for the green energy transition.

Gecamines chairman Robert Lukama told Reuters that the company has funds to finance the acquisition of three assets from ERG, a Luxembourg-based company with a 40% stake held by the Kazakhstan government. He did not disclose the names or values of the assets, but said they were among ERG’s several operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the world’s top cobalt supplier and a major copper producer.

“We have a firm proposal and we can confirm our proposal,” Lukama said in an interview. “We showed our seriousness and we showed that we have the means to buy the assets.”

ERG did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

ERG’s assets in the DRC include the Frontier mine, Comide, Metalkol, Boss Mining, and various development and near-production projects. The company has been in talks with the DRC authorities to resume operations at its Boss Mining site, which were suspended in June last year over environmental concerns. Gecamines owns a 49% stake in Boss Mining, which targets producing about 25,000 tons of copper and more than 3,000 tons of cobalt annually.

Lukama said the loss of production at Boss Mining was depriving both shareholders of revenue. He added that Gecamines was entitled to claim back undeveloped assets and was focused on creating value for the country.

Gecamines, which was once one of the world’s top copper producers, has seen its output decline over the years due to mismanagement, underinvestment, and political interference. The company has been trying to revive its fortunes by renegotiating joint venture contracts, securing purchase and trading rights for copper and cobalt, and seeking new partnerships.

The DRC holds about 70% of the world’s cobalt reserves and 10% of its copper reserves. These metals are in high demand for the production of electric vehicles, batteries, and renewable energy technologies. The country’s mining sector has attracted billions of dollars of investment from foreign companies but also faces challenges such as corruption, insecurity, and social unrest.

Gecamines’ bid for ERG’s assets comes amid a global surge in copper and cobalt prices, driven by strong demand and supply disruptions. According to Bloomberg, copper prices have risen by more than 50% in the past year, while cobalt prices have jumped by more than 40%. Analysts expect the rally to continue as the world shifts to a low-carbon economy.

Source: Mining Weekly

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