PRIVATE capital might be invited to help finance the activities of a proposed state-owned company in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said Reuters citing the comments of the country’s mines minister.
Bloomberg News reported last week that the DRC was interested in setting up a state-owned monopoly that would buy the cobalt produced by artisanal miners. According to the Reuters report, however, mines minister, Willy Kitobo Samsoni, would invite investors.
“The easiest thing for us is to be financed by the Congolese state,” Samsoni told Reuters on the sidelines of the Mining Indaba investment conference in Cape Town. “But if the state cannot raise the funds to buy all the artisanally mined cobalt, then the state will have to enter into partnership with a company.”
“We have plans for talks with financiers here,” Samsoni added.
DRC produces about 60% of the world’s cobalt. Most of that is extracted by industrial operators like Glencore and China Molybdenum, with artisanal miners accounting for about a quarter of output, said Reuters.
The new company, Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC), would be managed independently by state mining company Gecamines, Samsoni said.
Artisanal output soared when the cobalt price rallied in 2017 and early 2018, providing as much as 20% of the DRC’s production, said metals trader Darton Commodities. Congolese officials put the figure as high as 30%.
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