Land agreement in motion for cobalt producer

7th February 2020 By: Halima Frost - Reporter

Katanga Mining, the Glencore subsidiary that operates in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has, as reported by Mining Weekly last month, reached an agreement to acquire land where it could build a new long-term tailings facility for its 75%-owned Kamoto Copper Company (KCC) operation.

The agreement with DRC State miner Gécamines, which has a 25% shareholding in KCC, includes multiple blocks, which not only cover the preferred location for the tailings, but could also enhance KCC’s ability to more efficiently operate its mines and other infrastructure.

Katanga said that, if the agreement was implemented, the risks for KCC’s operations resulting from land constraints, which it previously alluded to, would be mitigated.

The company announced in a separate statement, also in December last year, that its first cobalt dryer has now returned to operation at a reduced capacity of around 60% of its nameplate design, following the completion of temporary repairs.

Its second dryer remains offline for design modifications, with commissioning scheduled during the first quarter of 2020, and the expectation that it will reach design capacity in the second quarter of 2020.

Once the second dryer is operational, the first dryer will be taken offline again for design upgrades. KCC anticipates that it will be back online and operating at full capacity in the second quarter of 2020 as well.

Full drying capacity should therefore be achieved from the start of the third quarter of 2020 and, once it is reached, KCC will be in a position to export all its cobalt production, including a gradual drawdown of accumulated cobalt inventories.

Katanga suggests that the objective of the ‘Cobalt Projects’ at KCC is to upgrade the existing cobalt plant design to reduce bottlenecks through modification of the precipitation, thickening, filtration, drying and bagging processes. “This will align the design of the cobalt plant with the average life-of-mine cobalt production plan of 30 000 t/y.

Execution of the Cobalt Projects at KCC is expected to continue throughout 2020, with the additional thickening capacity expected to come online during the second quarter of 2020.