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Glencore’s cobalt output up by almost a third thanks to Congo mines

Katanga boasts one of Congo’s biggest reserves of copper and cobalt, but it has underperformed for decades. (Image courtesy of Katanga Mining.)

Miner and commodities trader Glencore (LON:GLEN) reported Tuesday higher output from Katanga, its key copper and cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Swiss company it produced 696,200 tonnes of copper in the first half of the year, against 642,900 in the previous year, and 16,700 tonnes of cobalt, the key battery material in electric vehicles, up from 12,700 tonnes in the first half of 2017.

Glencore increased cobalt output by almost a third between Jan. and June, thanks to Katanga ramp-up.

Thanks to the ramp up of Katanga, Glencore increased cobalt production by almost a third, 31% to be exact, from January to June this year. The company’s activities in Congo, however, have been overshadowed by a dispute over a contentious mining code signed into law this year as well as a number of probes about possible corruption and money laundering.

In early July, the company revealed it had received a subpoena from by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to produce documents related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and US money laundering statutes. The records relate to the company’s business in Nigeria, DRC and Venezuela, from 2007 to the present.

The company’s stock dropped as much as 13% in London after the subpoena became public, wiping more than 5.5 billion pounds ($7.3 billion) off its market value, or about half the $14.8 billion profit Glencore made last year.

The SOJ request came just weeks after Britain’s Serious Fraud Office said it was preparing a formal bribery probe into the company and its deals with Dan Gertler, Glencore’s former business partner in the DRC, where the firm is the top producer of copper and cobalt.

The news was followed by threats from a group of shareholders about imminent legal action against the company for causing them to lose money.

Glencore’s cobalt output up by almost a third thanks to Congo mines

Source: Reuters.

In other commodities, Glencore said nickel’s first-half output was 21% higher than a year earlier, following expanded output at Koniambo in New Caledonia and a shutdown at Murrin in Australia the year before.

The firm’s total African copper production, including its operations in Zambia, increased by 75% to 194,600 tonnes in the six months to June, though sales of the red metal were down by 32,000 tonnes because of shipment timing,

Shares in the company were trading 3.46% higher to 336.2p by 4:03 p.m. London Time.