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DRC miner set to become 2nd-largest cobalt producer after Glencore

Chemaf Sarl, a junior cobalt miner in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is building a processing plant at its Mutoshi copper-cobalt mine, Bloomberg News reported March 27, citing Chairperson Shiraz Virji.

The proposed plant will open in September 2019 and will have the capacity to produce 20,000 tonnes of cobalt per annum six months after opening.

This could put Chemaf in second place in terms of cobalt output, behind Glencore PLC, after adding the output from Chemaf's 5,000-tpa Etoile mine.

Congo accounts for two-thirds, or 81,000 tonnes, of global cobalt production, and 50% of this comes from China Molybdenum Co. Ltd.'s Tenke Fungurume and Glencore's Mutanda mining operations, according to the report.

Banking on the expected surge in demand for cobalt, other miners including Luxembourg-based Eurasian Resources Group Sarl, Shanghai-based Pengxin International Mining Co. and Lubumbashi, DRC-based Somika Sarl are also expanding their cobalt operations.

Eurasian Resources' Metalkol Roan tailings reclamation project is expected to start production later this year, reaching a capacity of 21,000 tpa. Pengxin International will open its process plant by end of the year. The plant will have an annual capacity of 7,000 tonnes.

Somika is also planning to add cobalt processing capacity. Chairman Chetan Chug aims to reach stable production of over 60,000 tonnes of copper and over 6,000 tonnes of cobalt per year from 2020.

Recently, the DRC rejected a proposal by mining companies to relax some provisions in the new mining code in return for higher royalties.