Congo and Zambia to strengthen battery supply chain
The world’s leading producer of cobalt, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) no longer wants to content itself with the role of supplier of raw materials. Instead, it wants to build its own battery supply chain in the country. A battery factory is also planned.
Like the German Handelsblatt reports, the Congolese government is now keen to secure a greater share of value creation domestically. Until now, the DRC was mainly known as an exporter of cobalt raw materials.
However, manganese has also been mined there for decades. As we know, this raw material is becoming increasingly important in electromobility. In addition, the country has recently discovered nickel and lithium deposits.
The first step, however, is the construction of a pilot plant for the production of cobalt precursors for the production of cathodes. This is due to enter service by the end of 2023. According to Industry Minister Julien Paluku Kahongya’s plan, a complete battery cell factory could also be built in Congo by the end of this decade or so. the beginning of the news. The country is in contact with possible partner companies, including Bosch, but also Chinese companies.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has also entered into a cooperation agreement with neighboring Zambia, which also wants to significantly increase its extraction of raw materials for batteries. The country is best known as a copper producer. Besides extracting this important raw material, Zambia also wants to produce copper cables in the future. Zambia is also hoping for cobalt discoveries in the border region with Congo.
In the past, there have been several initiatives to build a better mining economy, which has come under criticism alleging the use of slave labour, as well as the lack of basic security provisions and the environmental risks. BMW, BASF and Samsung had started a project to improve transparency and conditions a few years ago with the German development agency GIZ, before deciding to stop buying cobalt from Congo in 2021. Volkswagen also later joined the initiative. More recently, it was rumored last year that CATL was considering sourcing cobalt from the African nation, however, the rumors were never substantiated.
handelsblatt.com (in German)