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Congo's new artisanal cobalt monopoly could seek private partner -minister

02/03/2020 | 06:15am EST
FILE PHOTO: Artisanal miners work at the Tilwizembe, a former industrial copper-cobalt mine, outside of Kolwezi, the capital city of Lualaba Province in the south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

A new state company set up by the Democratic Republic of Congo to manage the country's artisanally mined cobalt could seek a private partner if the state does not have the funds to purchase all production, the mines minister said.

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.

DRC on Friday granted the new company a monopoly to purchase and market all cobalt that is not mined industrially in an effort to exert greater influence over prices.

"The easiest thing for us is to be financed by the Congolese state," Mines Minister Willy Kitobo 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.

The new company, Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC), would be managed independently by state mining company Gecamines, Samsoni said.

(Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Susan Fenton)

© Reuters 2020
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