By WilliamClowes and Jack Farchy
(Bloomberg) -- Eurasian Resources Group Sarl is halting production at a copper and cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to people familiar with the matter.
The shutdown at Boss Mining Sprl will curb supplies from a nation that accounts for three quarters of global production of the metal used in rechargeable batteries. The company produced
about 3,300 tons of cobalt in 2018, according to Darton Commodities Ltd., accounting for about 3.5 percent of Congo’s output.
Talks are under way to place Boss Mining’s operations on care and maintenance, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information hasn’t been made public yet.
The company is a joint venture between ERG and state-owned
ERG, which owns 51 percent of Lubumbashi-based Boss, is carrying out technical work at the mine and may resume production later this year, one of the people said. The company
is dismissing 2,700 workers and the conditions of their departure are being negotiated, another person said.
Boss Mining, where copper and cobalt are extracted side-by- side, is running out of oxide ores that can be processed, the second person said. The company will have to invest in new treatment methods to exploit the remaining sulphide deposits, the person said.
ERG spokesman Andrey Belov said an official statement will be released later on Tuesday. Gecamines President Albert Yuma didn’t answer calls and emails seeking comment. Mines Minister
Martin Kabwelulu said in an email he didn’t have any official information about Boss’s closing.
ERG and Gecamines in December concluded a second revision of their joint venture agreement, after the state mining company sought a greater share of revenue from the project. Gecamines boosted its stake to 49 percent from 30 percent and ERG converted into equity more than $1.5 billion of intra-group
loans granted to Boss.
Boss produced about 24,000 tons of copper metal and 33,000 tons of cobalt concentrate in the first nine months of last year, generating export revenue of about $310 million, according
to Mines Ministry data.
ERG has three other mines in Congo, including the Metalkol Roan Tailings Reclamation project, which recently resumed operations and may become one of the world’s largest cobalt