Glencore confirms reopening of DRC’s Mutanda copper/cobalt mine

Mutanda, DRC

GLENCORE could reopen its Mutanda Mining copper and cobalt project in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by the end of 2021, about two years after idling the mine, said Bloomberg News.

Mutanda “… will start the commissioning of operations towards the end of this year in order to allow the return to production in 2022,” Glencore told Bloomberg News in an emailed statement.
The DRC’s new mines minister, Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi had met with representatives from Glencore on Monday to discuss the restart of the mine. Mutanda was closed in November 2019 amid a heavy decline in the cobalt price.

A reopening of Mutanda, one of the world’s biggest cobalt mines, comes when there’s renewed demand for battery metals as automakers focus on metal-intensive electric vehicles and global economies shift away from fossil fuels in favor of cleaner technologies that use electricity for energy, said Bloomberg News. Cobalt and copper are key metals in that transition.

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.

Mutanda was responsible for a fifth of global cobalt production in 2018, said Bloomberg News citing Darton Commodities, a UK-based firm that specialises in the metal.

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.