China’s CMOC Group increased its cobalt production by more than 170% in the previous year, surpassing Glencore Plc as the world’s leading producer of the essential battery metal thanks to a new mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo experiencing rapid production growth.
Listed in Hong Kong In 2023, CMOC produced 55,526 tonnes of cobalt, according to a filing it made on Thursday. Glencore predicted an output of up to 42,000 tonnes in October.
The massive Kisanfu mine owned by CMOC came online in the 2nd quarter. And while traders and investors had anticipated a significant increase, the company’s own output guidance was exceeded by more than 20% for the full year.
The $1.8 billion Kisanfu mine’s explosive output, coupled with increased cobalt output in Indonesia and a pickup in exports from CMOC’s other Congolese operation, Tenke-Fungurume, contributed to a precipitous decline in cobalt prices in 2018.
By the start of 2023, the market was already experiencing one of its greatest surpluses ever. And the extra output contributed to a 30% decline in prices during the year.
The discrepancy between demand and supply got so bad by the middle of the year that Glencore began to hoard excess tonnes at its operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in an attempt to stabilise the market. Next month, Glencore is schedule to release its full-production results.
In addition, CMOC’s copper output increased by 51% to 419,539 tonnes, placing it among the top producers globally at a time when many miners are finding it difficult to increase output.