DR Congo’s Gecamines Plans to Explore for Energy Transition Minerals

Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) state mining company Gecamines is planning to explore for minerals required for the development of a transition to cleaner energy, including lithium, tin and rare earths, company chairman Kalubi said on Tuesday. The state-owned miner, which was among the world’s top copper and cobalt producers in the 1980s, also aims to boost production to re-enter in the “big leagues” Kalubi added.

Gecamines wants to raise copper output to 100,000 tons a year. The company saw peak production of 486,000 tons of copper in 1986. The company last year produced 4,562 tons of copper and 19,907 tons of cobalt.

“Our geologists will aim to organize prospection campaigns on all our sites to look for lithium, tin, cobalt, coltan, titanium, wolframite, gold, rare earths” Kalubi said, as part of efforts to diversify Gecamines’ activities.

He invited investors to speak to Gecamines about “win-win partnerships” to explore and produce those metals.

DRC and Gecamines have long been affected by the country’s so called “artisanal” miners, who work illegally on company sites. The country loses a lot of mining revenue because of those miners, who smuggle resources including gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten to foreign buyers.

Industrial mines must systematically plan to work alongside artisanal miners, where possible, Kalubi said.

“That is crucial, as we can no longer tolerate the disgraceful conditions in which artisanal diggers work, and we can no longer tolerate that our state and Gecamines, whose concessions are illegally exploited, be robbed of their riches,” he added.

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