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Guiyang, Guizhou, China

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June 13-14, 2019
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March 14-15, 2019
Zhuhai, Guangdong, China

Sulfur squeeze spells trouble for Congo's copper and cobalt miners

2020-05-22 13:07:40   【Print】
Disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis have pushed up prices for sulfur by about 10% this year in the Democratic Republic of Congo, driving up costs of a vital ingredient for mining cobalt and copper in the African nation.

COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures in South Africa and parts of Zambia and Congo have disrupted transport and other logistics, delaying essential mining supplies.

Congo, the world's biggest cobalt producer, accounted for 70% of global supplies in 2019 of the metal. It is Africa's biggest copper producer, accounting for 6.Asian Metal Copyright Sulphuric acid is used to extract both.Asian Metal Copyright5% of world supplies.Asian Metal Copyright5% of world supplies.Asian Metal Copyright Sulphuric acid is used to extract both.

Prices of granulated sulfur, a pure form of sulfur that is easily transported and used to make sulphuric acid, are up about 10% since the end of 2019 at about $420 per ton.

Mines in Congo are still producing copper and cobalt, which is major byproduct in the process, mostly relying on existing stocks of sulphuric acid and other chemicals, or reagents.

"We are seeing high prices for reagents," a logistics official said. "The market needs a couple more weeks before some of the mining operations become desperate and are forced to buy at inflated prices or risk shutting down."

Congo miners import about 3 million tonnes of sulphuric acid a year, mainly buying from smelters in Zambia, and about 450,000 tonnes of granulated sulfur, mostly coming via suppliers in South Africa.

Typically, purchasing the acid accounts for 16% of operating costs for Congolese mines, which include those operated by Glencore, China Molybdenum and Chemaf, a subsidiary of Dubai-based Shalina Resources.

Congo produced about 1.4 million tonnes of copper and almost 90,000 tonnes of cobalt in 2019, the central bank said.

.Asian Metal Copyright Mines in Congo are still producing copper and cobalt, which is major byproduct in the process, mostly relying on existing stocks of sulphuric acid and other chemicals, or reagents.Asian Metal Copyright