Congo seeks more cobalt market control as batteries drive boom

(Bloomberg) — The Democratic Republic of Congo will seek greater control of the global cobalt market by engaging directly with car and battery manufacturers, according to its largest state-owned mining company.

"I find it scandalous that when cobalt is discussed, and the explosion of electric vehicles, only the traders and consumers are referenced and Congo and Gecamines are not cited," Gecamines Chairman Albert Yuma said in an interview in Cape Town.

The market seems to think that "the future of cobalt is in the hands of Glencore, Trafigura and CMOC but not the Congo or Gecamines," Yuma said. "We legitimately want to control the cobalt market because it is ours."

Congo accounts for about two-thirds of global cobalt supply. The country isn’t benefiting from rallying copper and cobalt prices and plans to renegotiate partnerships with international mining companies, Yuma said earlier Monday.

Read more: Congo’s Gecamines Plans to Renegotiate Mining Agreements

Gecamines has already held discussion with one large Chinese battery producer about establishing a joint venture to develop the state-owned miner’s cobalt concessions, Yuma said. It is also planning discussions with a Chinese car manufacturer, he added, declining to identify either company.

Consumers want to secure, stable, long-term supply and, unlike traders, don’t speculate on price, he said.

(Written by Tom Wilson)