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DR Congo’s State-Owned Cobalt Company To Work With Pilot Mines

After a lengthy period of dormancy, the state-owned firm that buys artisanal cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eric Kalala, stated on Thursday that it is prepared to select pilot mines with which it will collaborate.

In order to improve the working conditions of artisanal miners, known as “creuseurs,” the DRC established Entreprise Générale du Cobalt (EGC), which has a monopoly on the acquisition and selling of artisanal cobalt. Since then, the state-owned enterprise has largely been idle.

More than 200,000 people are reported to be working in hazardous conditions in informal cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the world’s largest supplier of this mineral crucial for the manufacture of electric batteries, amid a backdrop of allegations of child labor and corruption.

EGC’s managing director told AFP on the sidelines of a cobalt workshop in Kinshasa that the company was evaluating eight trial sites from which it may shortly begin sourcing.

These sites are located on concessions controlled by the Congolese mining firm Gécamines in the provinces of Lualaba and Haut-Katanga in the country’s south-east. “We are in the process of analysing the mineralisation to ensure that we can use them as pilot sites”, explained Eric Kalala.

Confirmation of the designation of these sites is expected within the next few weeks, he added, explaining that the EGC would then endeavour to control access to the mines, distribute protective equipment and launch an ore traceability programme. “This is a first step”, he said.

According to EGC officials present at the conference on Thursday, the Covid-19 epidemic, the war in Ukraine, and delays in establishing a market regulator have all contributed to the company’s difficulties in getting off the ground.

Before the conference, mining campaigner Franck Fwamba accused lawmakers of having a vested interest in the informal cobalt mines. He also alluded to the alleged antagonism of the Minister of Mines, Antoinette N’Samba, toward EGC and its illegal monopoly.

Written by PH

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