SMM11, July 7: Glencore's subsidiary Katanga Minin in the Congo temporarily suspended cobalt exports from its Kamoto project after discovering high concentrations of uranium in its ores. Glencore said the levels of radioactive metals exceeded the acceptable limits for exports through major ports in Africa. The suspension is expected to continue from the fourth quarter of 2018 to the first two quarters of next year, and Katanga cobalt sales and output will be postponed to the second half of 2019.
Katanga's assets include the Kamoto underground mine and the KOV open pit mine, which provide sulfides and oxides, respectively. The company also owns the Luilu smelter for on-site production of refined copper and cobalt.
The Katanga mine produced 102600 metric tons of copper and 6500 metric tons of cobalt in the first nine months of 2018.
For the whole of 2018, Canon, a Swiss mining and commodities trader, is expected to produce 39000 metric tons of cobalt and 1.465 million metric tons of copper. Katanga is expected to produce about 11000 tons of cobalt and 150000 tons of copper.
Haitong Nonferrous said that the sales suspension so far has affected 1472 tons of finished cobalt, and the production of Kamoto will not be affected by the suspension. Kamoto is Glencore's main increase in cobalt production from 2018 to 2020. The company expects cobalt production to be 1.1,3.4 and 32000 tons, respectively. The company plans to build a new ion exchange system to remove uranium, which is expected to be operational by the end of the second quarter of 2019. However, until the necessary approval is obtained, the produced cobalt products will be stored on site and are expected to be sold by the end of the fourth quarter of 2019. When cobalt prices are low, mining companies tend to maintain prices by controlling production to the market. As a result, Glencore's resumption process, production and sales pace will be variable next year, which is expected to repair previous fears of a surge in supply next year.
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