Copper Supply Disruptions Mount as Congo Halts Mine Operation Due to Radiation

Operations have been suspended at the La Compagnie Minière de Musonoie (COMMUS) copper and cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to concerns over excessive radiation levels in the cobalt produced there.

The mine, owned by Zijin Mining Group Ltd. and Gecamines, halted production earlier this week as government officials oversee testing of cobalt shipments that were exported and returned.

The COMMUS project in Kolwezi, Lualaba province produced 129,000 tons of copper and 2,200 tons of cobalt last year. Congo has some uranium deposits in its southeastern Katanga region which can occasionally lead to contamination. Cobalt is extracted as a by-product of copper mining.

The shutdown comes amid disruptions in the global copper supply, including the closure of First Quantum’s Cobre Panama mine and lowered guidance from Anglo American. China’s Zijin owns 72% of COMMUS, with Congo’s state mining company Gecamines holding the remaining 28% stake. Zijin also has an interest in Ivanhoe’s Kamoa-Kakula, Congo’s largest copper mine.

Meanwhile in Chile, Codelco is expected to see a dip in output this month after a fatal accident at its Radomiro Tomic mine. Chile’s Mining Minister Aurora Williams said Codelco’s April production “is probably going to go down a little” due to this disruption, though she expects a recovery in the third quarter. Codelco, battling to remain the world’s top copper producer, has seen output slump to 25-year lows.

Information for this story was found via Bloomberg, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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