Canada-based Cobalt Blockchain Inc (COBC) expects final ratification shortly for a copper/cobalt trading and export license that will allow it to establish regional buying depots in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), process minerals in-country and export internationally.
COBC has started initial arrangements to set up its cobalt trading facilities in the DRC, which will include a 1,000 square meter depot with storage, assay laboratory, clinic and office capabilities. The depot site will also incorporate perimeter fencing and security equipment.
On completion of the trading depot, COBC will purchase its first cobalt concentrate from COMIKU, one of the largest local mining cooperatives in the Lualaba province, following a supply agreement announced on Friday April 6. Under the agreement and starting in June, COBC will be supplied with a minimum of 40,000 tonnes per year of cobalt concentrate, with a minimum grade of 1% cobalt.
COBC is the first mining and mineral trade company set up specifically to procure cobalt in compliance with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) due diligence framework, which ensures it addresses child labour and other challenges associated with artisanal and small-scale mining in the DRC.
Since March, COBC has been working with BetterChain SL to develop an autonomous due diligence protocol. The protocol can be used by any upstream mining and mineral trade operator to demonstrate OECD compliance and improve upstream reporting, whether sourced via artisanal and small-scale mining or otherwise, and throughout the mining supply chain.
COBC is also continuing to work with other partners toward establishing a blockchain platform to provide greater certainty of provenance and further assurance that all minerals procured are ethically sourced.
The mining sector in the mineral-rich DRC, a key producer of copper and cobalt, has flourished following a recovery in metals prices and because of the push toward more use of electric vehicles (EVs) globally.
Cobalt prices have risen as a result, with Metal Bulletin’s benchmark price assessment for low-grade material, free market settling at $42.85-43.85 per lb, in-warehouse, on Friday May 18. This was up by 73% from a year ago.