Cobalt is not very abundant in the Earth’s crust and most of it is found in association with other metals, such as nickel and copper. The main sources of cobalt are the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which accounts for more than half of the global production, followed by Australia, Canada, Cuba, Russia, and Zambia.
The “cobalt belt” in Congo is a region that is home to the largest deposits of this metal in the world, but it is also an area of great poverty and labor exploitation. Cobalt is sold to intermediaries who export it to international companies, without traceability or social responsibility for the origin and impact of this mineral.
Major cobalt mine
Some of the major cobalt mining companies in the world are:
- Glencore PLC, a multinational commodity trading and mining company based in Switzerland. Glencore is the world’s largest producer of cobalt (2022). The company operates two mines in the DRC, Katanga and Mutanda, which are among the key sources of cobalt in the world. Glencore also has interests in other cobalt projects in Australia, Canada, Norway, and Zambia.
- China Molybdenum Co. (CMOC), a Chinese mineral mining and processing company. The company acquired a majority stake in the Tenke Fungurume mine in the DRC in 2016, which is one of the largest and highest-grade copper-cobalt deposits in the world. China Molybdenum also has interests in other cobalt projects in Brazil and Australia.
- Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), a privately held diversified mining and metals group based in Luxembourg. The group owns and operates the Metalkol RTR project in the DRC, which recovers cobalt from historic tailings.
- Gecamines (Générale des Carrières et des Mines), a state-owned mining company in the DRC. The company owns and operates several mines and processing plants in the DRC, such as Kambove, Kamfundwa, Shituru, and Luilu. Gecamines also has joint ventures with other mining companies, such as ERG and China Nonferrous Metal Mining Group.
Data from Delta Analysis Reuters, Bloomberg and Glencore.
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