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Cobalt production slumps

Sharply lower cobalt output is forecast this year for Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) and Gecamines of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which together produce 40 percent of world supplies, the London ‘Financial Times’ reported on Thursday.

ZCCM produced 350-400 mt of cobalt a month for most of 1998 but in April output dropped to 255 mt and is expected to fall to 146 mt in August. Its stocks have also crashed to 102 mt. Gecamines monthly production has slumped from 386 mt in October last year to a forecast 146 mt in August, the newspaper quoted the head of a London cobalt trading group as saying. The company held stocks of 800 mt as of the end of March.

Cobalt prices have jumped at signs of a serious shortage of the metal, an essential component of super alloys, batteries and pigments. Cobalt has fetched US $20 a pound in the past few days against US $15 last week, the ‘Financial Times’ said.

ZCCM and Gecamines are set to lose market share and the political situation in the two countries means they are unlikely to be able to increase investment in production, an analyst told the newspaper.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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