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Acid Plant Database November 25, 2019

Owner Mutanda Mining Sarl

Location The Mutanda Mine lies about 40 kilometres (25 mi) to the southeast of Kolwezi in the Roan formation.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Background Mutanda Mining (known as “MUMI”)  comprises the Mutanda and Kansuki concessions in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo which were merged in July 2013. MUMI is jointly owned by Glencore (69% ownership) and Fleurette (31% ownership).  MUMI is managed by Glencore who also have a 100% offtake contract for all copper and cobalt production.
Website www.glencore.com
Plant -
Coordinates* 10° 47' 29" S, 25° 47' 34" E
Type of Plant Sulphur Burning
Gas Source Elemental Sulphur
Plant Capacity H2SO4: 390 MTPD
SO2: 75 MTPD
Emissions -
Status -
Year Built 2012
Technology -
Contractor -
Remarks -
General Annual production capacity is estimated at 20,000 tonnes of copper metal and 8,000 tonnes of cobalt in cobalt hydroxide, with expansion to 110,000 tonnes of copper metal and 23,000 tonnes of cobalt in cobalt hydroxide by the first quarter of 2012. Facilities include a Dense Media Separation Concentrator and a Hydrometallurgical plant for crushing, screening, milling, pre-leaching, leaching, clarification and SX/EW.  In November 2011 Glencore confirmed that it should compete its expansion in December, bring up annual capacity to 110,000 metric tons of copper metal as planned. Glencore made an investment of $650 million to develop this capacity.

Glencore International operates the mine and has a 40% stake in the mine through a 50% holding in Samref Congo, which in turn holds 80% of Mutanda. Until recently, the state-owned Gécamines held the remaining 20%.  Glencore also indirectly owns 37.5% of Kansuki, a copper and cobalt development project bordering Mutanda covering 185 square kilometres (71 sq mi). In August 2011 Glencore's CEO said the company planned to combine the two properties and to increase its share to over 50%.

In September 2011 the International Monetary Fund asked for explanations from Sodimico and Gécamines, both state owned mining companies, of sales of assets below market value and without publicity. At the time, the IMF was providing loans to the DRC worth $561 million to improve the economy. Gécamines had recently sold its 20% share of the Mutanda project, worth an estimated $600 million, for $137 million. The buyer was Rowny Assets, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands and "associated" with Dan Gertler.

References -
News November 26, 2019 - Glencore’s Mutanda mine in Democratic Republic of Congo has suspended operations prematurely due to difficulties procuring sulphuric acid, a key input for copper and cobalt extraction, its Mutanda Mining subsidiary told employees in a letter on Monday.  The suspension, effective from Monday, comes more than a month before the world’s biggest cobalt mine was set to go into care and maintenance. Glencore had announced in August it would suspend the mine from year-end, for two years.  “Mutanda Mining is forced to halt extraction and treatment of copper and cobalt earlier than planned due to difficulties in procuring acid,” the letter from management, dated Nov. 25 and seen by Reuters on Tuesday, said.  A Glencore spokesman confirmed the letter’s contents. 

October 25, 2019
- Miner and commodities trader Glencore reported on Friday a 4% fall in copper output so far this year and cut 2019 guidance as it readies to halt some operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The Switzerland-based company said that full-year copper production, excluding output from its African mines, will be around 1.010 million tonnes. Guidance for its copper operations in DRC and Zambia was around 375,000 tonnes, making a total of just under 1.4 million tonnes versus the 1.45 million previously anticipated.  Glencore is mothballing Mutanda Copper and Cobalt mine in DRC at the end of the year.  Glencore, which has decided to separate its African copper business from its wider copper operations, announced in August a restructuring plan and new targets for its Katanga mine in DRC. It also said at the time it would mothball Mutanda, its other mine in the Central African country, at the of the year.  Production at Katanga, the company’s main copper asset in Africa, hit almost 60,000 tonnes in the three months to September, up from 52,500 tonnes in the previous quarter. Output of cobalt, the battery metal that is produced alongside copper, came in a 4,800 tonnes, up from 2,600.  Overall, however, Glencore’s African copper division saw production drop by 5% to 283,000 tonnes.  The Baar-headquartered firm also revised its zinc production forecast by 85,000 tonnes partly due to the delayed restart of a mine in Peru. Guidance for ferrochrome were also trimmed because of additional maintenance.

August 15, 2019 - Swiss miner Glencore said this month that it will be suspending production at one of the world's largest cobalt mines in Mutanda in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by the end of the year.  The move is likely an attempt to force the government’s hand over corporate taxes, according to Indigo Ellis, Africa Analyst at Verisk Maplecroft. Glencore’s size and diversified nature allows it to influence the global cobalt market, she argues.  Glencore wrote to employees saying that the Mutanda mine is no longer economically viable over the long term, also citing the DRC’s new mining code as among the reasons for the closure.    

- Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg is “probably seeking special considerations for Glencore’s operations in DR Congo,” Ellis says.
- “Top of the wish list would be an exemption to the 10% strategic substance levy on cobalt, or the onerous super-profits tax.”
- Glencore paid the government $626m in taxes from Mutanda in 2018 – more than 10% of the government’s target budget.

The DRC is the world’s largest producer of cobalt, a metal used to make cell phone batteries and other consumer electronics. Cobalt prices have halved over the last year.But lower cobalt prices are giving Glencore the chance to flex its muscles in the DRC. Mutanda alone accounts for almost 20% of global output.

- This month, analysts at Fitch wrote that the closure will be enough to provide support for global cobalt prices going into 2020.

- Further project delays or cutbacks by other cobalt miners could end current oversupply in the cobalt market and drive a faster-than-expected recovery in prices, Fitch says.

- “It may be that putting Mutanda under care and maintenance will not take place, and the benefits of a price jump will be enough to make operating Mutanda profitable again by the end of 2019,”

Ellis says.Mutanda produced 27,300 tonnes of cobalt last year – more than half Glencore’s total output – and 199,000 tonnes of copper. The mine has about 10,000 tonnes of unsold cobalt.

July 2012
- Glencore has spent the equivalent fo $480 million to take majority control over the Mutanda Mining Sprl copper mining and solvent extraction/electrowinning (SX/EW) operation in the DRC.  Glencore paid $340 million to acquire 24.49% of Samref Overseas SA from High Grade Minerals and a further 1% equity interest in Samref Congo Sprl from Groupe Bazano Sprl in two separate share purchase agreements.  The deal takes Glencore's stake in Samref Overseas from 50% to 74.49% and its effective stake in Mutanda consequently to 60%.

MTPD - Metric Tonne per Day           STPD - Short Ton per Day
MTPA - Metric Tonne per Annum      STPA - Short Ton per Annum
SA - Single Absorption
DA - Double Absorption

* Coordinates can be used to locate plant on Google Earth