The Democratic Republic of Congo is looking for private partners to help fund a government-owned company created to buy all the country’s hand-mined cobalt.
The new monopoly is aimed at better regulating small-scale mining and giving Congo an influence over cobalt prices. The country produces more than 60% of the world’s cobalt, an essential ingredient in the lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles, and some 20% of the metal is hand-dug by workers referred to as artisanal miners.
Entreprise Generale du Cobalt was created last year by state-miner Gecamines and is currently looking for financing partners, Mines Minister Willy Kitobo Samsoni said Monday at the African Mining Indaba in Cape Town. The new company will be run by its own board and will probably start operating by June, he
“If the state can’t find the funds to buy all the artisanal
product, the state necessarily will have to enter into a
partnership with a company,” Kitobo said. “There are already
talks to finance this,” he said, without offering more details.
Read More: Congo Government Moves to Monopolize 20% of
EGC and a new regulatory authority known as ARECOMS will
identify artisanal mining areas where they can monitor the
cobalt supply and prohibit the presence of child labor, Kitobo
said. The sites will need a “certificate of conformity” in order
to market their minerals as will any industrial buyers of
artisanally mined cobalt, he said. Unregulated artisanal mines
will be closed, Kitobo said.
“The regulatory authority is working with industrials and
diggers to determine the price” of the artisanally mined cobalt,
Kitobo said. EGC is establishing four depots in the provinces of
Lualaba and Haut Katanga to collect the minerals, he said.
Eventually, the state monopoly will extend to artisanally
mined coltan and germanium.
“We first want to master the cobalt because the quantity of
artisanal cobalt has become important,” Kitobo said.
He said the state’s monopoly on artisanal cobalt buying
will be temporary, but didn’t give an expiration date. “The
monopoly is a monopoly at the beginning and once we are able to
control it we can re-open to others.”
LaPresse du Congo/Bloomberg