Congo’s Gecamines sells copper assets to Chinese for $52 million

Congo’s Gecamines sells copper assets to Chinese for $52 million

Exploration drilling at the Kamoa copper project, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Image courtesy of Ivanhoe Mines)

The Democratic Republic of Congo's state-owned miner, Gecamines, has sold a copper-cobalt mining permit in southeast Katanga province to Chinese investors for $52 million.

The nearly 13 square kilometre concession, which contains reserves of 354,619 tonnes of copper and 62,903 tonnes of cobalt, will now be run by China Nonferrous Metal Mining Co. and a unit of Huayou Cobalt Co., the company said in a statement (in French).

The deal increases Chinese miners presence in Congo, which is Africa’s top copper producer and the world’s largest producer of cobalt.

Zijin Mining, one of China's largest mining groups, is finalizing a $412 million deal with Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN) to exploit one of the world’s biggest undeveloped copper reserves.

Zijin, which besides gold also produces copper and zinc, acquired in March a 10% ownership in Ivanhoe for about $85 million.

Both MMG Ltd., an indirect subsidiary of China Minmetals Corp., and Jinchuan Group also have copper projects in Congo.

Copper prices were trading lower on Tuesday. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had dropped 0.9 percent to $5,542.50 a tonne by 10:04 GMT, following small losses the previous session. Copper prices plumbed a six-year trough of $5,240 a tonne last week.