Congo starts selling copper/cobalt from JVs for first time

THE Democratic Republic of Congo has started selling copper for the first time with a number of bids from traders being considered, said Bloomberg News.

State-owned mining company Gecamines holds minority stakes in firms such as China’s CMOC Group and Glencore which mine in the Congo. Until now, the joint ventures sell the production. But the state company is taking a more active role by marketing its share of the metal, said Bloomberg News.

Gecamines is offering copper from CMOC’s giant Tenke Fungurume mine, in which it holds a 20% interest, said the newswire citing people familiar with the situation. The state miner is assessing bids — including from Glencore, Trafigura Group and Mercuria Energy Group — for 90,000 tons from the project, two of the people said.

Gecamines’ move creates opportunities for traders to bid on sizeable new contracts at a time of heated competition for copper deals. Congo has recently become the world’s No. two producer and has seen exports almost triple since 2016, said Bloomberg News.

Gecamines plans to run similar processes for its share of copper from Glencore’s Kamoto operation and the Chinese-owned Sicomines project. Together, those two assets produced more than 400,000 tons of the metal last year.

The Congo has also established a company that will buy metal from artisanal miners operating in the country. Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC), in which Gecamines is a shareholder, also has Trafigura Group as its main partner.

“Trafigura remains committed to its commercial agreement with EGC and delivering on the pressing need to kick-start the large-scale formalisation” of the artisanal and small-scale cobalt sector, the commodities trader said in February.