Glencore, Umicore Enter into Long-Term Cobalt Supply Agreement

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Multinational miner Glencore announced this week that it has entered into a long-term cobalt supply agreement with Umicore, a global materials technology and recycling group based in Brussels.

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According to Glencore, the cobalt will be sourced from its KCC and Mutanda operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Cobalt, a majority of which is mined in the DRC, is coveted for its application in high-tech technologies, including electric vehicle batteries.

“Umicore has assessed each operation as fully compliant with its sustainable procurement framework for cobalt which excludes artisanally mined cobalt from its supply chain, as well as any form of child labor,” Glencore said in a prepared statement. “The cobalt units will be shipped to Umicore’s cobalt refineries globally, including the Kokkola refinery in Finland once the ongoing acquisition process is complete.”

“We are pleased to enter into this long-term partnership with Umicore in the fast growing electric vehicle market which further endorses Glencore’s important role in supplying the materials that enable the energy and mobility transition,” said Nico Paraskevas, head of marketing for Glencore’s copper and cobalt division.

Umicore’s CEO touted the agreement as part of the firm’s “growth strategy for cathode materials.”

“Our partnership with Glencore and the acquisition of the Kokkola refinery which has just been announced demonstrate our ability to execute our growth strategy for cathode materials with consistency,” Umicore CEO Marc Grynberg said. “The agreement also reconfirms our strong commitment to promote a sustainable battery materials value chain globally. I am convinced that our battery cell and automotive customers will value our commitment to support their growth.”

Glencore released its first-quarter production figures in April, noting its Q1 2019 cobalt production of 10,900 tons marked a 56% year-over-year increase.

Umicore, meanwhile, announced May 23 that it reached an agreement to acquire Freeport Cobalt’s cobalt refining and cathode precursor activities in Kokkola, Finland — the largest cobalt refinery in Europe — “for a total consideration of $150 million on a debt and cash free basis, plus the value of the working capital to be taken over at closing, which at the end of March was approximately $40 million.”

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Umicore expects that deal to be finalized this year following regulatory approvals. The Kokkola facility will supply precursors for cathode material production in Nysa, Poland, which is expected to begin in 2020.

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