Sub-Sahara Mining & Industrial Journal
Health and Safety Mining News

Congo Copper Mine Halts Operations Due to Radiation Worries

Operations at a Zijin Mining Group Ltd. copper and cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been halted due to concerns about elevated radiation levels in its cobalt, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The La Compagnie Minière de Musonoie project, also known as COMMUS, has been shut down since earlier this week, the sources said. They requested anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

Government officials at the COMMUS site are supervising the suspension of production and testing of cobalt shipments that were blocked and returned after export, the sources added. The DRC’s southeastern Katanga region contains uranium deposits, and occasional contamination can occur.

Cobalt is extracted as a byproduct of copper mining, and the COMMUS mine produced 129,000 tons of copper last year, accounting for about 4.2% of the world’s total copper output. Additionally, it yielded 2,200 tons of cobalt.

This shutdown coincides with supply disruptions in the global copper market, triggered by the unexpected closure of First Quantum Minerals Ltd.’s Cobre Panama mine. Anglo American Plc has also revised its production forecasts downward, and Codelco’s output has dropped to its lowest in 25 years.

Zijin owns a 72% stake in COMMUS, which is located in the mining hub of Kolwezi in Lualaba province. The remaining stake is held by the state-owned Gecamines. Zijin also has an interest in Congo’s largest copper project, Ivanhoe Mines Ltd.’s Kamoa-Kakula.

Neither Zijin, Congo’s Mines Minister Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi, nor Lualaba’s Mining Minister Jacques Kaumba responded to requests for comment. Gecamines declined to provide a comment.

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