Zijin cooperating with Congo probe after radiation detected in cobalt load

COMMUS project. Credit: La Compagnie Minière de Musonoie.

Chinese mining giant Zijin Mining said on Tuesday it would cooperate with authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo after radiation was detected in a shipment of cobalt from its mine in the country, and had recalled it.

The company said above-normal radiation levels were detected on a cobalt consignment during a routine customs inspection in Botswana, even though the shipment had been tested prior to being exported.

Congolese authorities suspended the activities of Zijin’s COMMUS mine over the incident, which is being investigated. The miner said the shipment had been issued with a radiation detection qualification report by Congo’s General Commission for Atomic Energy (CGEA).

While the cobalt hydroxide passed the qualified testing of a third-country radiation protection agency during transportation, authorities in Botswana detected the above-normal radiation levels, the company said.

Some Congo producers transport cobalt by road via Zambia and Botswana to be exported via Namibia’s port of Walvis Bay.

“During customs clearance testing in Botswana, there was a suspected radiation exceedance issue,” Zijin said.

“We will cooperate with the government joint working group to investigate the root cause as soon as possible, take appropriate measures, and ensure product compliance.”

Zijin owns a 72% stake in the COMMUS copper and cobalt mine, and the remainder is owned by Congo state miner, Gecamines.

COMMUS, based near Congo’s southern city of Kolwezi, produced 129,000 tonnes of copper and about 2,200 tons of cobalt last year.

Zijin said it had notified Congolese authorities of the higher levels of radiation and initiated the recall of the shipment.

(By Felix Njini; Editing by Nellie Peyton, Alexander Winning and Jan Harvey)


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