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Eurasian Resources to boost cobalt output through Metalkol facility in DRC

Eurasian Resources Group Sàrl is aiming to ramp up cobalt output with the launch of its Metalkol facility in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in anticipation of an increase in demand for the metal by the automotive industry, Reuters reported Oct. 9, citing CEO Benedikt Sobotka.

The company plans to boost cobalt output by five-fold to 20,000 tonnes in 2019, with Metalkol eventually becoming one of the world's biggest cobalt producers with output capacity of 24,000 tonnes of cobalt and 120,000 tonnes of copper cathode.

Eurasian Resources will reprocess cobalt and copper tailings at Metalkol in the DRC, amid a new mining code enacted by the latter's government that imposes a windfall profits tax, raises royalties and cancels so-called stability clauses protecting miners.

The company, however, remains committed to its DRC operations. "If you want to be a cobalt market player, DRC is the place to be. It has 70% of global [cobalt] reserves," Sobotka noted.

Eurasian Resources has two other copper and cobalt mining units in DRC and owns a smelter in neighboring Zambia which refines both metals and will produce 4,000 tonnes of cobalt and 150,000 tonnes of copper.

"Our plan is to boost cobalt capacity to 50,000 tonnes and copper to over 350,000 tonnes," Sobotka added. He provided no details of the expansion plans, but said the company is seeking organic growth and the development of its own projects.

Meanwhile, the London Metal Exchange is planning to clamp down on the country's artisanal mines allegedly involved in child labor. Eurasian Resources aims to use a blockchain-based tracking system to guarantee the "ethical purity" of its cobalt to address this, Sobotka told Reuters.