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Glencore reduces its ambitions for African copper and cobalt

By Théau Monnet
Posted on Thursday, 31 October 2019 03:29

Chief Executive Officer of Glencore Ivan Glasenberg attends a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russia 6 June 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

After announcing the suspension of its operations at the Mutanda copper and cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Swiss mining giant unveiled mixed quarterly results and a lower outlook for its assets on the continent.

Raw materials giant Glencore has seen a decline in production since the beginning of 2019, mainly due to the “optimisation” measures it is implementing in its copper and cobalt mines in Mutanda and in Mopani, Zambia.

During the first nine months of the year, Glencore produced nearly one million tonnes of copper worldwide, 28% of which was produced on the African continent. But its African copper production had decreased by 4% compared to the same period in 2018, the group announced in its quarterly report.

The decline could have been even greater if the group had not accelerated its mining operations in Katanga, where its copper production increased from 52,500tn in the third quarter of 2018 to 60,000tn in the third quarter of this year.

Downward forecasts

However, management has lowered the forecast for this mine – 233,000tn of copper and 12,000tn of cobalt are expected to be produced in 2019 – due to a recovery plan developed by the group. The latter ensures that with the ‘processing office’ developed to implement this plan, production from Katanga should reach 300,000tn per year from 2022 onwards.

Due to a jump in cobalt supply in 2019 – +21% compared to 2018 – and lower-than-expected sales, the group announced in August the suspension of its Mutanda mine by the end of the year, for an indefinite period.

Management has stated, however, that it has explored the economic and technical viability of a new project to extend the Mutanda mine operation for another 20 years.

This article first appeared in Jeune Afrique.

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