Commodities trader Trafigura has received US $600million from the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) to develop cobalt and copper mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Trafigura’s head of nickel and cobalt trading Socrates Economou confirmed the report and said the syndicated financing will aid in completing Chemaf’s new mechanised mine at Mutoshi, processing plant in Kolwezi, and the expansion of its Etoile mine and processing plant in Lubumbashi.
Mutoshi was initially an artisanal cobalt mining formalisation project run by Trafigura and Chemaf along with non-governmental organisation PACT for nearly two years. The project ended on Dec 2020 when Chemaf announced plans to turn the site into an industrial mine. It expected to start producing by the fourth quarter of 2023, will become the third-largest cobalt mine in the world, with a capacity of 16,000 tonnes of cobalt hydroxide and 48,000 tonnes of copper cathodes a year. Trafigura will market all the cobalt hydroxide produced by Chemaf’s Congo operations.
Copper mining in DRC
“We look forward to welcoming additional international and African banks to the syndicate in subsequent rounds of refinancing for these vital developments for the supply of critical minerals and the DRC economy,” said Economou.
Copper mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo mainly takes place in the Copper Belt of the southern Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Not all copper deposits contain significant cobalt, but nearly all cobalt in the country is sourced from copper deposits. The DRC produces about 63% of the world’s cobalt, with about 80% from industrial copper mines, and the remaining 20% gathered by artisanal mining.