Glencore set to reopen DRC’s Mutanda copper/cobalt mine in 2022

Mutanda, DRC

GLENCORE is to reopen its Mutanda mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) next year, said Reuters citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

Mutanda, the world’s largest cobalt mine and which also produces large amounts of copper, was mothballed in November 2019 in a context of falling cobalt prices, increased costs, and higher taxes that had dented the mine’s economic viability, said Reuters.

Today, however, the copper price soared to record highs of above $10,000 a ton whilst the price of cobalt, at $45,000/t, was almost 40% higher since the start of 2021. The price gains are owing to supply-side fears following a sharp rebound in China’s economy.

Restarted output from Mutanda could help ease shortages in the copper and cobalt markets that analysts are expecting for next year, potentially capping further price gains, said Reuters.

Mutanda produced 103,200 tons of copper and 25,100 tons of cobalt hydroxide in 2019 compared with 199,000 tons and 27,300 tons respectively in 2018. It has five copper production lines and three cobalt hydroxide lines.

It is not known how many lines could be restarted over the next 12 months.

According to a Goldman Sachs report in early May, the world copper market would flip into a deficit this year. “Our commodities team [is] expecting a 242,000 tons deficit in 2021,” the bank said.