Trafigura agrees artisanal cobalt supply deal with DRC

by Margaret Lau
Trafigura CEO Jeremy Weir. Photo: Trafigura
Commodities trader Trafigura has agreed a trading deal to "transform” artisanal cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and boost responsible sourcing in the battery materials supply chain.

Trafigura said the offtake deal with DRC state buyer, Entreprise Générale du Cobalt (EGC), includes financing the creation of "strictly controlled artisanal mining zones”, the installation of ore purchasing stations and costs related to the "transparent and traceable delivery of cobalt hydroxide to Trafigura on an export-cleared basis”.

EGC will set up a technical committee through which Trafigura and the international non-profit Pact – among others – will promote responsible sourcing diligence.

Trafigura did not disclose volumes involved in the offtake agreement.

Trafigura’s executive chairman and CEO, Jeremy Weir, said: "Cobalt has a vital role to play in the world’s energy transition and electrification.”

'Important livelihood'

"Artisanal mining provides an important livelihood in the DRC… We will continue to engage and collaborate with stakeholders to be part of the solution to supply cobalt responsibly.”

According to the African Union, global demand for cobalt – whose main producers are the DRC and Zambia – could increase by around 30% during 2020, reaching 120,000 tons. "Other estimates show that by 2025, the global consumption of cobalt will reach about 200,000 tons, which is a 90% increase from current levels,” the body said.

Last September, the European Union pledged new laws to address the responsible sourcing of battery raw materials, with the bloc expected to need up to 18 times more lithium and five times more cobalt in 2030, to support expanding batteries production for the electric vehicles sector.

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