Closure of the Mutanda mine in DRC takes a substantial chunk out of global cobalt production. (Image: Glencore)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – Glencore AG, one of the largest miners in the world, has announced the closure of its Mutanda mine due to depressed cobalt prices. The closure of the mine that in 2018 produced 27,000 tonnes of cobalt (and 199,000 tonnes of copper) is expected to drive up the global price of cobalt and leave electric vehicle makers scrambling for supply.
DRC was once again the world’s largest producer of cobalt at 90,000 tonnes in 2018. Numbers from the Cobalt Institute put the global total production at about 100,000 tonnes. Closure of the Mutanda mine will take a big bite out of the total. (Glencore’s total cobalt output last year was 42,200 tonnes.)
The mine closure has some analysts making dire predictions about falling availability and rising prices. There will certainly be some adjustment on both fronts, but whether or not things will be as bad as some are saying, remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, Glencore has promised a total of US$45 million to reopen First Cobalt’s refinery in Cobalt, Ont. Glencore will supply the feed stock. When a planned expansion is complete, capacity will be 5,000 t/y of cobalt sulphide. That’s not enough to replace the shortfall in DRC, but Glencore will be in a position to take advantage of any price increase.
To read yesterday’s item about the refinery at CMJ, click here.