Gecamines dispute threatens 5,000 tpy of DRC cobalt production

The GTL refinery in the Democratic Republic of Congo might have to shut in August, halting 5,000 tpy of cobalt production, unless 70% owner George Forrest International and state-owned partner Gecamines resolve a dispute about contracted volumes.

The refinery produces alliage blanc using zinc-rich cobalt tailings from the Big Hill deposit, which was produced by previous mining and refining in Katanga province. News of the possible impact on GTL production, albeit in four months’ time, is likely to increase focus on availability, in a market being powered by a predicted explosion of demand for units from the electric vehicle battery sector, and the speculative interest that has ensued. “There’s nothing bearish about it. I don’t think it will cause the market to shoot up and on its own it isn’t monumentally significant, but it is part of a broader bullish theme,” one trader said. The cobalt market has soared this year, with Metal Bulletin’s benchmark assessment of low-grade cobalt prices rising to $25-26.50 per lb on April 12, up from $14.30-15 at the start of the year. Market sources told...


James Heywood

Alex Harrison

April 19, 2017

14:57 GMT