Glencore and Gécamines settle fight that put a quarter of global cobalt supply at risk
Vancouver/London — Democratic Republic of Congo state miner Gécamines will drop legal proceedings to dissolve a copper and cobalt joint venture with a subsidiary of Glencore, after reaching a settlement with its partner that includes Gécamines getting a $150m payment.
Glencore unit Katanga Mining said on Tuesday that it had agreed on a recapitalisation plan for 75%-owned Kamoto Copper Co with Gécamines, its joint venture partner, involving converting $5.6bn of Kamoto’s debt to equity to fix a capital shortfall.
Katanga’s Toronto Stock Exchange-listed shares jumped 23% to C$1.28.
Investors have been watching the dispute closely, particularly for any impact on supplies of cobalt from Congo, which is by far the world’s biggest producer of the metal used in batteries for electric cars and cellphones.
Gécamines started legal proceedings in April to dissolve Kamoto, blaming Glencore for high debts that have weighed on the Congolese mining company for more than 10 years.
The $150m payment will be funded by new loans from Glencore, which owns 86% of Katanga.
"I consider this is a small price to pay," said Paul Gait, an analyst at Bernstein Investment Research.
"It de-risks the situation. It shows a commercial discussion can be conducted rationally and you can come to a solution where both parties can move forward," Gait said.
Glencore accounts for more than a quarter of the world’s cobalt output, most of it from Congo, which itself is the source of 60% of global supplies.
Any disruption could push up cobalt prices from already historic highs of nearly $100,000 a tonne.