Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) said on Sunday its subsidiary would take a stake in China Molybdenum Co’s Kisanfu copper-cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for $137.5 million.
The investment gives CATL access to one of the world’s largest undeveloped sources of cobalt, an ingredient in electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Cobalt prices are up more than 50% this year on surging EV demand and concerns of a supply squeeze.
Under a strategic partnership agreement, Ningbo Brunp CATL New Energy Co will take 25% in Moly unit KFM Holding Limited, which holds 95% of the Kisanfu mine, CATL said in a statement. CATL has already invested in companies mining other battery metals such as lithium and nickel in a bid to secure supply.
Moly, which bought its stake in Kisanfu in December, said in a separate statement it and CATL “will fund the project capex in proportion to their ownership in KFM to jointly build a world-class copper and cobalt producer.”
Moly will retain 75% of KFM and future production will also be split 75:25.
The partnership sees Moly become “a long-term cobalt supplier to the world’s largest power battery manufacturer,” it added.
Kisanfu, located near Moly’s giant Tenke Fungurume copper-cobalt mine in the DRC, the world’s biggest cobalt-producing country, contains an estimated 3.1 million tonnes of cobalt metal as well as 6.2 million tonnes of copper.
The DRC government has a 5% stake, meaning Moly’s actual holding in Kisanfu will be 71.25% and CATL’s 23.75%.
A broad strategic partnership between the two companies will see them cooperate in nickel, including in Indonesia where they both have projects, as well as in global acquisitions, investments and development of lithium, Moly’s statement said.
(By Tom Daly; Editing by Barbara Lewis)