Wanbao Mining’s DRC Pumpi project produces first batch of copper cathode

Wanbao Mining’s Pumpi copper and cobalt project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) produced its first batch of copper cathode on Sunday September 13, the company said.

The Pumpi copper and cobalt project aims to produce 40,000 tonnes per year of copper and 5,000 tpy of cobalt, Wanbao Mining said.
“While [copper] production this year is estimated to be 6,000-10,000 tonnes due to the delayed commencement,” a source at the company told Fastmarkets.

The project is located in the Kolwezi territory of DRC’s Katanga province and contains five deposits of Pumpi Nord, Pumpi Gare, Pumpi GareSud, Kamassami Simba, and Kamassani Est, with total copper and cobalt resource reserves estimated around 666,000 tonnes and 117,000 tonnes, respectively.

Production delayed due to Covid-19-related lockdown
The commissioning at Pumpi started on August 25, about four months later than originally planned in April, due to the lockdown policies implemented widely over the world to combat the pandemic, which left South African ports closed, logistics’ efficiency reduced, equipment delivery delayed, international flights disrupted and construction personnel short-staffed at the site.

As a result, several management and technical personnel due to work at Wanbao’s two copper-cobalt sites of Kamoya and Pumpi in the DRC were stuck in China, which affected the construction and operations of the two assets to an extent.

The company has been preparing for charter flights since June, with a charter flight carrying 291 passengers, including some Wanbao staff, leaving Shanghai on August 4  for the DRC.

The Kamoya copper and cobalt project mainly produces copper-cobalt sulfide concentrate and copper-cobalt oxide concentrate and started commissioning in June 2016 with its first batch of 3,000 tonnes of copper and cobalt concentrates arriving at domestic Chinese customers in November 2016.

Kamoya and Pumpi both are run by Comika Mining, a DRC-based company that Wanbao Mining invested in.

The Pumpi copper and cobalt site is a partnership asset, with Wanbao holding a 75% of stake, Managem Group owning 20% and the Congolese state owning 5%. 

Managem Group has several copper-bearing assets on the African continent – including Pumpi in the DRC and Tizert in Morocco – with the aim to double its copper production by 2021, the company said. 

Wanbao Mining is a Beijing-based international mining company and runs many mining subsidiaries overseas, mainly in Southeast Asia as well as Central and South Africa.