Operations at Mutanda’s Mine shut down four months early

November 26, 2019

Operations at Glencore’s Mutanda Mine in Democratic Republic of Congo was suspended more than four months before it had been scheduled to move to care and maintenance status.

Reuters reported that Glencore said the premature closure is the result of difficulties in procuring sulfuric acid. The acid is a key ingredient for copper and cobalt extraction, its Mutanda Mining subsidiary told employees in a letter.

The Muntanda Mine is the world’s biggest cobalt mine. Glencore chief executive officer Ivan Glasenberg decided in August to suspend Mutanda from the year-end, for an expected two years. He said falling cobalt prices, increased costs, and higher taxes had dented the mine’s economic viability.

The company’s wholly-owned Mutanda Mining (MUMI) subsidiary notified employees of the suspension in a letter seen by Reuters, whose contents a Glencore spokesman confirmed.

“It is not expected for acid to be available in the market for the foreseeable future and therefore MUMI will now progress onto a care & maintenance program slightly earlier than originally communicated,” the letter from management, dated Nov. 25, said.

Mutanda Mining, based in DRC’s southern Katanga region, said it had shut down mining and processing operations and announced the cancellation of certain night shift duties due to a “depleted” supply of acid.

Access to sulfuric acid has been a challenge for mining companies in the vast central African country with unreliable infrastructure.
In February around 20 people died when a truck carrying acid to the Mutanda mine collided with two other vehicles.

 

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