The Republic of Congo is in talks with the Swiss mining giant, Glencore to reopen the country’s largest cobalt mine, Mutanda. Congo’s new mines minister Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi met with representatives from the Swiss mining company on Monday to discuss the reopening of the mine, which closed in November 2019 due to falling prices. Glencore state that Mutanda “will begin commissioning operations towards the end of this year in order to allow the return to production in 2022”.
Mutanda, one of the world’s largest cobalt mines, is reopening at a time when demand for battery metals is increasing as auto manufacturers look to leverage the emerging trend of electric vehicles and countries are shifting from fossil fuel to more environmentally friendly forms such as electricity. are focus metal-intensive electric vehicles and global economies are seeking better alternatives to fossil fuels and toward greener technologies that use electricity.
Following a drop in cobalt prices, Glencore announced in August 2019 that the mine would be closed for two years for care and maintenance. According to Darton Commodities Ltd., a U.K.-based corporation that specialises in metal, Mutanda was responsible for a fifth of world cobalt production in 2018.
Nevertheless, there remains to been seen, regulations to avoid the exploitation of Africa’s leading cobalt producer. In 2020, Tesla signed a deal with Glencore, although the company claims it’s phasing out its use of the metal.
Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk said in a Tweet in 2018, “We use less than 3% cobalt in our batteries & will use none in the next generation”. This statement is a far cry from reality due to the amount of cobalt required in Tesla battery cells along with their huge build.
And should the trend continue, we can expect considerable depletion in this mineral deposit which holds a lot of development potential for Africa’s development.