Lead, Zinc and coblat

China’s Norinco agrees to buy struggling Congo cobalt miner Chemaf

China’s Norinco agrees to buy struggling Congo cobalt miner Chemaf
Cobalt miner Chemaf SA has agreed to sell assets in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Chinese miner Norin Mining to settle debts largely funded by its long-time partner, commodities trader Trafigura, it said on Thursday.

Financial details were not disclosed.

The new owner, a unit of Chinese state-backed China North Industries Corp (Norinco), has the resources and technical capabilities to complete the expansion of two cobalt and copper projects in Congo, Chemaf said in a statement.

China’s miners, most of which are state-backed, have become the biggest investors in Congo as the world’s second-largest economy aggressively pursues copper and cobalt supplies for its rapidly expanding electric vehicle industry. Congo is the world’s No. 1 cobalt supplier, where Norinco already owns the Comica and Lamikal copper and cobalt operations.

Chemaf, a family-owned copper and cobalt miner, offered itself for sale last year due to a cash crunch that was stalling the expansion of its Etoile and Mutoshi projects in Congo as cobalt prices slumped.

Chemaf said in October it needed as much as $300 million to complete the expansion to produce about 75,000 tons of copper and 20,000 tons of cobalt annually. It had about $690 million in borrowings, with around $590 million arranged by Trafigura.

Trafigura declined to comment.

Norinco trades about 560,000 tons of copper products and 10,000 tons of cobalt annually, data on its website showed.

Chinese companies have been aggressively expanding into Africa in search of critical minerals for its EV manufacturers, and control an estimated 80% of the copper and cobalt industry in Congo.

MMG, backed by state-owned China Minmetals NonFerrous Co, bought Botswana’s Khoemacau copper mine last year for about $1.9 billion.

Shanghai-listed mining services and contracting firm JCHX Mining took control of Lubambe copper mine in Congo’s southern neighbour Zambia this month.

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