Zijin Mining Recalls Cobalt Shipment from Congo Mine After Radiation Detected

Zijin Mining's Congo copper and cobalt operation suspended due to high radiation levels in shipments, raising concerns over global supply of critical minerals.

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Salman Khan
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Zijin Mining Recalls Cobalt Shipment from Congo Mine After Radiation Detected

Zijin Mining Recalls Cobalt Shipment from Congo Mine After Radiation Detected

Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd, a Chinese company that owns a majority stake in the COMMUS copper and cobalt operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has had mineral shipments from the project recalled due to high radiation levels. The Congolese mines minister, Antoinette N'Samba Kalambayi, informed COMMUS in a letter dated April 12 that the ministry had suspended the project's license while it investigates the issue.

The letter stated that the shipments, which were exported to South Africa, were returned because their "radioactivity content exceeds the regulatory threshold." The COMMUS project produced 129,000 tonnes of copper and 2,200 tons of cobalt in 2023, according to ministry data.

The ministry's investigation will verify COMMUS' compliance with export procedures and assess the risks posed by the presence of radioactive materials in the export chain. Zijin Mining has pledged to cooperate with the authorities in the investigation.

Why this matters: The DRC is the world's third-largest copper producer and top producer of cobalt, a key component in batteries for electric vehicles and mobile phones. Any disruption to the supply of these critical minerals could have significant implications for the global transition to clean energy technologies.

The incident at the COMMUS project comes amid ongoing logistical challenges in South Africa, which have been impacting commodity exports. Kumba Iron, for example, reported a 10% fall in first-quarter sales due to these issues. As the investigation into the recalled cobalt shipment continues, Zijin Mining has committed to working closely with Congolese authorities to address the situation and ensure compliance with all relevant regulations.

Key Takeaways

  • Zijin Mining's COMMUS project in DRC had mineral shipments recalled due to high radiation.
  • DRC suspended COMMUS' license to investigate the radiation issue in exported materials.
  • COMMUS produced 129,000 tonnes of copper and 2,200 tons of cobalt in 2023.
  • Disruption to DRC's copper and cobalt supply could impact global clean energy transition.
  • Zijin Mining pledged to cooperate with DRC authorities to address the situation.