Glencore is cutting the workforce at its Mutanda copper and cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo to lower costs before a possible shift in production methods, according to people familiar with the matter.
Labour unions met on Friday to discuss the job cuts, which will affect contractors and expatriate employees, the people said, asking not to be identified as the matter is private. No Congolese nationals are affected. The layoffs come as Glencore considers a plan to stop
mining oxide ores at Mutanda — the world’s largest and richest
source of cobalt — and invest in new methods to extract the
metals from sulfide deposits. The company is studying the
economic viability of those deposits, given rising production
costs and an uncertain political environment in Congo.
Relations between miners and the Congolese government have
been strained following a revision to the mining code that
tripled the royalties levied on cobalt. Mutanda is a crucial
source of employment and tax revenue for Congo. The cuts to the
mine’s workforce were reported earlier by the Financial Times.
Late last year, Glencore halted exports of cobalt from its
neighboring Katanga mine after ores were found to be
radioactive. The miner last week said it expects a large part of
its cobalt output from Katanga will only be sold next year.