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Copper Prices Soar as China’s Largest Mining Group Suspends Production

theguru Views  

Production suspended at the COMMUS copper mine in Congo
The possibility of high levels of radiation in cobalt raises concerns
Copper prices are at their highest in a year and are expected to face increased upward pressure

Zijin Mining Group, China’s top gold-producing company, has halted production at its copper mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) due to concerns about high levels of radiation being detected in the copper production process.

According to industry sources, on the 22nd, the DRC’s COMMUS copper mine project, owned by Zijin Mining Group, decided to halt production as it was flagged for potentially detecting high radiation levels.

The DRC government reports that high radiation levels could occur from cobalt mined at the COMMUS copper mine. In reality, cobalt is a byproduct of copper production, with COMMUS producing approximately 129,000 metric tons of copper last year, which amounted to 2,200 metric tons.

While overseeing the suspension of production at the COMMUS mine, the DRC government is testing cobalt shipments that were returned after the decision to halt exports.

The COMMUS mine is located in the Kolwezi mining hub of Luabala Province. Zijin Mining Group owns a 72% stake, and the DRC state-owned company Gecamines holds the remaining stake.

Zijin Mining Group also has a stake in the Kamoa-Kakula project of Ivanhoe Mines, the largest copper project in the Congo.

With the COMMUS mine entering a production halt, copper prices, which hit a record high in a year, are expected to face increasing upward pressure. As of the afternoon of the 12th, the cost of copper based on the London Metal Exchange (LME) was recorded at $9,457.5 per metric ton, the highest level in the past year.

Copper prices rise as production cuts and suspensions continue in significant mining areas like China and Peru. Chinese copper smelters announced plans to cut production by up to 10% at the end of last month, and Peru’s Las Bambas mine is also facing a production suspension crisis due to a union road blockade.

The increase in power demand due to the spread of artificial intelligence (AI) is also fueling the rise in copper prices. Reuters predicted that global copper demand will increase by up to 1 million metric tons by 2030 compared to now.

Meanwhile, Zijin Mining Group announced plans to acquire a 15% stake in Canadian copper mining company Solaris Resources for about 130 million Canadian dollars (about $103 million) in January. This is the first investment by a Chinese mining company since Canada ordered three Chinese companies to withdraw their investments in Canada’s critical minerals for national security reasons in November 2022.

theguru
content@viewusglobal.com

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