Cobalt, copper exports from Tenke on hold until shareholders sign sales contract

COPPER and cobalt exports from the Tenke Fungurume mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo are on hold whilst a new sales contract remains outstanding.

Bloomberg News said today a court appointed adminstrator had imposed the block on exports. The mine is jointly owned by Gecamines, the state-owned base metals company and China’s CMOC Group – which owns 80%.

“CMOC’s management is completely opaque where they know everything and Gecamines knows nothing,” Sage Ngoie, the administrator, told Bloomberg News. The mine’s output is being sold to a CMOC unit “at a price that Gecamines doesn’t know,” said Ngoie.

CMOC and Gecamines are in a dispute after it was claimed by the Congolese that CMOC had been lying about Tenke Fungurume’s mineral reserves. Gecamines says it is owed $7.6bn by CMOC Group in royalties and interest. The state miner sued in 2021 to have a temporary administrator appointed to run the company while the two partners worked out their differences, said Bloomberg.

Ngoie took over Tenke last month with the blessing of Gecamines, but CMOC has blocked him from entering the mining site.

Bloomberg’s article follows a report by Reuters on Sunday that said CMOC had instructed companies that transport to halt exports until at least July 24.

Tenke is one of the world’s biggest cobalt mines, accounting for about 14% of global production in 2021, according to calculations by Bloomberg using figures from Darton Commodities Ltd. It’s also a major copper producer.