China Molybdenum to invest US$2.5b to double copper, cobalt output at DRC mine

DRCChina Molybdenum Company says it would spend US$2.51 billion to roughly double production of copper and cobalt at its giant Tenke Fungurume mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The bumper investment comes as prices for both metals have jumped in 2021 amid a demand rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Copper is up 23% year to date on the London Metal Exchange after hitting a record high of almost US$10,750 a ton in May 2021, while cobalt is up 64% at about US$52 000 a ton.

China Moly said in a filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange that the US$2.5 billion investment, which will go toward building three ore production lines would boost average annual copper output at the mine by 200,000 tons and increase cobalt output by 17,000 tons.

“The project is expected to be completed and put into production in 2023,” it said, adding the end-products would be copper cathodes and cobalt hydroxide.

China Moly has an 80% stake in Tenke Fungurume, one of the world’s largest copper-cobalt deposits. The mine produced around 182 600 tons of copper and 15,400 tons of cobalt in 2020.

Output is forecast to be higher this year.

The company said it would finance the US$2.5billion investment with its own funds and through bank loans.

This comes as Central Copper Resources (CCR), a company focused on delivering copper assets in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia, is targeting a new copper zone in the DRC.

Central Copper CEO Kevin van Wouwtells Mining Weekly that there is a geographical feature or fault running east to west from north Angola through the DRC into Congo-Brazzaville.

CCR has 85 kilometers of contiguous license on the feature and it is well identified by historic exploration and artisanal production since the 1930s.

China Moly has an 80% stake in Tenke Fungurume, one of the world’s largest copper-cobalt deposits”

The company has drilled out 4.5 kilometers of this strike length for its Joint Ore Reserves Committee-compliant resource of 11.8 million tons at 3.13% copper, added Van Wouw.

He said CCR is expanding the resource with its work programme over the next 18 months, which involves drilling along strike to east and west, to determine the potential of doubling the resource.

Completing a pre-feasibility study on the current resource will include an infill campaign, which will improve understanding of the high grade and may improve the overall resource grade, informs Van Wouw.

He said the infill campaign could lift the overall resource grade to be more reflective of the intersects of 4% upward.

Regional work has identified 71 areas of interest, some of which are drill ready, and some of which require further regional work that will develop project two and three into the pipeline.

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