Glencore to restart operations at Mutanda copper, cobalt mine in 2022

May 18, 2021

Glencore announced that it plans to restart operations at the Mutanda cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mine is the world’s biggest cobalt mine that also produces large amounts of copper.

A source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters the restart could come in 2022.

Glencore, one of the world’s largest copper producers and leading cobalt producer, said in February that the process to resume production at Mutanda was underway, but did not give a specific date.

With copper at record highs above $10,000/t ($9,000 st) and cobalt metal up almost 40 percent to around $45,000/t ($41,000/st) since the start of 2021, market focus has turned to Mutanda -- a facility that has been on care and maintenance since November 2019.

Restarted output from Mutanda could help ease shortages in the copper and cobalt markets that analysts are expecting for next year, potentially capping further price gains.

Mutanda produced 103,200 t (143,500 st) of copper and 25.1 kt (27,670 st) of cobalt hydroxide in 2019 compared with 199 kt (219,000 st) and 27.3 kt (30,100 st) respectively in 2018. It has five copper production lines and three cobalt hydroxide lines.

Glencore's contribution to global copper supplies last year was nearly 1.3 Mt (1.43 million st) in a market estimated at around 24 Mt (26.5 million st), while for cobalt the number was 27.4 kt (30,000 st) or nearly 20 percent of the global total.

Glencore Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg decided in August 2019 to suspend Mutanda. He said falling cobalt prices, increased costs, and higher taxes had dented the mine's economic viability.

However, since then significantly higher cobalt prices have made costs and taxes less of an issue.



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