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Congo Suspends Licence Of Chinese-Owned Mining Operation Due To High Radiation Levels

Congo mines ministry halts shipments of copper and cobalt by a primarily Chinese-owned mining group over high radiation levels.

A Congolese copper and cobalt operation, primarily owned by China’s Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd, faced rejection of its mineral shipments due to excessively high radiation levels. The Congolese mines minister told the COMMUS project, where Zijin maintains a 72% stake, of the temporary suspension of its license pending an inquiry into the issue.

“I am informed of the return of your shipments that exported … mineral products to South Africa on the grounds that their radioactivity content exceeds the regulatory threshold,” Mines Minister Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi said in a letter. COMMUS has not issued a comment.

Based near the southern city of Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, COMMUS produced 129,000 tonnes of copper and approximately 2,200 tons of cobalt in 2023, according to ministry data.

An internal directive from the ministry outlined the investigation’s steps, including verifying COMMUS’ adherence to export procedures and assessing potential risks posed by radioactive materials in the export chain.

Congo ranks as the world’s third-largest copper producer and the leading producer of cobalt, a critical element in electric vehicle and mobile phone batteries.

Melissa Enoch

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