Deziwa copper and cobalt mine opens in Congo

January 15, 2020

The Deziwa copper and cobalt mine and processing plant was opened on Jan. 15 by the Democratic Republic of Congo's state mining company Gécamines which is part of a joint venture majority-owned by China Nonferrous Metal Mining Company (CNMC).

The Deziwa deposit, around 35 km (22 miles) east of Kolwezi, is estimated to hold 4.6 Mt (5.1 million st) of copper and 420 kt (463,000 st) of cobalt. The $880 million project expects to produce 80 kt/a (88,000 stpy) of copper and 8 kt/a (8,800 stpy) of cobalt, according to Somidez, the joint venture that controls the project that is held 51 percent by CNMC and 49 percent by Gécamines.

Reuters reported that Gécamines chairman Albert Yuma described it as an innovative partnership for Congo, with a greater government stake than other projects in the country.

For example, Gécamines holds just 25 percent of Kamoto Copper Company, with 75 percent owned by Glencore subsidiary Katanga Mining.

The Deziwa Mine is the latest example of the close investment ties China has forged with Congo. Yuma said the two countries were “united in their wish to strengthen and develop new industrial and economic relations.”

CNMC will operate Deziwa for nine years, with a possible two-year extension, before transferring it to Gécamines.

“Unlike our other industrial partnerships, the lifespan of our collaboration is already fixed and at the end of it, we will be the only masters on board,” Yuma said in the speech, read out in his stead at the mine opening which he did not attend.

Based on known reserves and planned annual production, Gécamines will operate the facility for a further seven to nine years, Yuma said.

Photo: A copper processing operation. Credit: Shutterstock.

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