China’s view, China’s investment in Congo gold mining is entering a new era
On November 18, 2019, the Deziwa and Somidez copper and cobalt mines built by CNMC at Congo Gold were successfully completed and brought into production.

 On November 20, the nearby Congolese smelter, LCS Pyrometallurgical, a joint venture between CNMC and Yunnan Copper, successfully completed a trial and produced the first batch of raw copper. The simultaneous construction and production of both projects in such a short period of time demonstrates the legacy of CNMC’s early days. A better knowledge of African culture has also strengthened confidence in the further development of other projects in the Congo. The Deziwa Project Deziwa is about 35 kilometres west of Kolwezi in the province of Lualaba. It is adjacent to the Glencore copper-cobalt mine. In July 2017, China Nonferrous Metals and Gécamines signed a joint venture agreement to form Somidez, with a shareholding split of 51% for CNMC - 49% for GÉCAMINES. The project is a BOT (Build, Operate, Transfer) fully financed and developed by CNMC.

 CNMC’s initial investment will be repaid with free cash flow from the sale of production. After a maximum period of 9 years, the project will be 100% owned by Gécamines. The total investment of the project is 880 million dollars. Copper and cobalt are produced in an open-pit mine. The ore volume is 4.5 million tons per year for an annual production of 80,000 tons of copper cathodes. The project officially began commercial production in January 2020. By integrating design and construction, CNMC implemented the project on behalf of the owner’s team, circumventing the restrictions of the new mining law on mining contractors and saving taxes and other fees. All of this resulted in a drastic reduction in construction time. LCS (Luarraba Project) LCS is a joint venture between China National Nonferrous Metals and China Aluminum Group, a subsidiary of China National Nonferrous Metals Corporation, listed in Hong Kong at a ratio of 6 - 4 in April 2017. It is located on the bank of the Lualaba River west of the Congo Copper-Cobalt Belt. The June 4 opening share ratio fully replicates the model of cooperation between CNMC and Yunnan Copper at the Chambishi smelter (CCS) in Zambia. 

The purpose of the investment is to serve as a pyrometallurgical support smelter for the Deziwa copper-cobalt mine and to meet future processing requirements for copper sulphide ore from surrounding mines. The project also supports the construction of a South Kolwezi Power Supply Centre, which will improve power supply in the southern Kolwezi area where the project is located and along the entire power line. The construction period for the project is two years. It officially started on 28 March 2018 and will create more than 1,500 jobs for the Congolese people. The LCS project uses the most advanced crude copper smelting technology in the world, with lower energy consumption and better environmental protection. The copper concentrate processed annually is 400,000 dry tonnes, with an annual production of 118,000 tonnes of blister copper (including at least 98.5% copper, 240,000 tonnes of sulphuric acid [100% H2SO4], 30,000 tonnes of liquid sulphur dioxide and copper-cobalt alloy). The total investment for the project is approximately US$437.6 million.

 Emily Wrag

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