Cobalt miner Chemaf Sarl dismissed a number of top managers as prices of the metal collapsed, according to people familiar with the matter.
Shiraz Virji, chairman of the Shalina Group that owns Chemaf, flew into the Democratic Republic of Congo last week and dismissed senior managers, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.
Virji didn’t respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment.
After quadrupling in two years, cobalt prices are now tumbling after producers such as Glencore Plc, Eurasian Resources Group Sarl and Chemaf upped output faster than demand is growing. Glencore said last week that a large part of its cobalt production from Congo will only be sold in 2020. The metal, used to make rechargeable batteries in electric vehicles,
has dropped by more than half over the past seven months.
Cobalt traders are hoping that Chinese buyers will return
to the market and support the price after the Lunar New Year
holiday is finished. But most believe that supply — dominated
by mines in Congo — will continue to be plentiful for most of
Chemaf, a closely held Lubumbashi-based company, signed a
three-year offtake deal for cobalt hydroxide output in December
2017 with trading house Trafigura Ltd. Chemaf’s output of cobalt
hydroxide climbed 51 percent to 28,056 tons in 2018 from the
previous year, according to data from Congo’s Ministry of Mines.