Chinese electric vehicle battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) announced on Sunday that its subsidiary Ningbo Brunp would take a 25% stake in China Molybdenum Co’s Kisanfu copper-cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). CATL would be investing US$137.5 million to shore up cobalt supply amidst the increased EV demand and supply concerns.
Kisanfu copper-cobalt contains an estimated 3.1 million tonnes of cobalt metal as well as 6.2 million tonnes of copper. The mine is located near Moly’s giant Tenke Fungurume copper-cobalt mine in the DRC, the world’s biggest cobalt-producing country.
Kisanfu is one of the world’s largest undeveloped sources of cobalt, an ingredient in electric vehicle batteries. Cobalt prices are up more than 50 percent this year.
New strategic partnership
The Chinese battery behemoth said in a statement that it has formed a strategic partnership agreement with China Molybdenum Co. CATL reported that its unit Ningbo Brunp CATL New Energy Co will take a 25% stake in Moly unit KFM Holding Limited, which holds 95% of the Kisanfu mine. Moly had bought its stake in Kisanfu in December.
As per the agreement, Moly would retain 75% of KFM and future production will also be split 75:25. It may be noted that based on the new partnership, the actual stake is 23.75 percent for CATL and 71.25 percent for Moly, as the DRC government has a 5 percent stake in the mine.
This partnership marks the battery maker’s latest investment in mineral supply. In a bid to secure supply, the company had previously invested in companies mining other battery metals such as nickel and lithium.
China Molybdenum Co said “Moly and CATL will fund the project capex in proportion to their ownership in KFM to jointly build a world-class copper and cobalt producer. The partnership sees Moly become a long-term cobalt supplier to the world’s largest power battery manufacturer.”
China Moly added: “A broad strategic partnership between the two companies will see them cooperate in nickel, including in Indonesia where they both have projects, as well as in global acquisitions, investments, and development of lithium”