ARTISANAL mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which supplies a significant portion of the country’s base metals output, will turn its attention to mining of copper following a hefty slide in cobalt prices, said Bloomberg News.
“At the moment the diggers prefer to work the copper,” said Jacques Kaumbu, the president of a mining cooperative in Lualaba province told Bloomberg News. “The old cobalt pits no longer interest them,” he said.
The DRC last year produced about 72% of the world’s cobalt, a key ingredient in the rechargeable batteries that power electric vehicles and smartphones, said the newswire. Whilst conglomerates such as Glencore produce the majority of the metal, artisanal miners have between 20% to 30% of the primary production market.
The workforce at Kaumbu’s cooperative has halved this year to around 500 and the group is only producing 2,000 tons of ore a month, 15% of which is cobalt, compared with 4,000 tons of cobalt ore and 1,000 tons of copper a year ago, said Bloomberg News.
Artisanal output could decline by more than 70% this year, Andries Gerbens, a cobalt specialist at Darton Commodities told the newswire.